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The Cambridge Introduction to Emmanuel Levinas by Michael L. Morgan

The Cambridge Introduction to Emmanuel Levinas


The Cambridge Introduction to Emmanuel Levinas by Michael L. Morgan

This book provides a clear and helpful overview of the thought of Emmanuel Levinas, one of the most significant and interesting philosophers of the late twentieth century. Michael L. Morgan presents an overall interpretation of Levinas' central principle that human existence is fundamentally ethical and that its ethical character is grounded in our face-to-face relationships. He explores the religious, cultural and political implications of this insight for modern Western culture and how it relates to our conception of selfhood and what it is to be a person, our understanding of the ground of moral values, our experience of time and the meaning of history, and our experience of religious concepts and discourse. Includes an annotated list of recommended readings and a selected bibliography of books by and about Levinas. An excellent introduction to Levinas for readers unfamiliar with his work and even for those without a background in philosophy.


'The writings of Emmanuel Levinas deserve a place as central to the discipline of moral philosophy. Michael Morgan's riveting study provides a point of access available to all. Crossing the range of Levinas's thought, Morgan provides [a] model of philosophical elaboration: patient, interrogative, and, at every turn, argumentatively suggestive. This book immediately takes its place as the best introduction to Levinas's philosophy available.'
J. M. Bernstein, New School for Social Research

'Morgan provides a clear and comprehensive introduction by situating Levinas's thought within three contexts: problems about the authority of ethics and normativity faced by other recent philosophers from the Anglo-American as well as the Continental traditions; Levinas's two corpora, consisting of philosophical and Jewish writings; and the atrocities of the twentieth century. The result is as helpful to newcomers as it is illuminating to those who are already familiar with Levinas's challenging philosophy.'
Paul Franks, University of Toronto

'Situating Levinas's thought within twentieth-century debates on the sources of normativity, The Cambridge Introduction to Emmanuel Levinas argues for the originality of Levinas's position as an account of ordinary life and what it is to live that life meaningfully and morally. Michael Morgan makes Levinas's writings approachable without sacrificing their philosophical complexity or the depth of the ethical experience they attempt to convey. His book sharpens the terms of debate over Levinas's ethics, brings new and important voices into the conversation, and challenges readers to move beyond standard interpretations. More than a simple introduction, this book is a deftly guided tour of the thorniest issues confronting those who seek to understand Levinas and his work. Morgan has brought us a book destined to change how we read Levinas today.'
Diane Perpich, Clemson University

About the Author

Michael L. Morgan is Chancellor's Professor of Philosophy and Jewish Studies, Emeritus, at Indiana University, Bloomington. He is the author of numerous books, most recently Discovering Levinas (Cambridge University Press, 2007) and Beyond Auschwitz (2002), which was a finalist in the category of Jewish Thought for the Koret Book Award. He has also edited several collections of essays and editions of Spinoza's writings and his articles have appeared in journals including the Review of Metaphysics, the Journal of Religion and the Journal of Jewish Thought and Philosophy.

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Book Info

Publication date

21st March 2011


Michael L. Morgan

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Cambridge University Press


270 pages


Philosophy of religion




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