Resaying the human: Levinas beyond humanism and antihumanism

Resaying the human: Levinas beyond humanism and antihumanism

by Carl Cederberg


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In this reading a notion of the human is developed through an engagement with the work of French philosopher Emanuel Levinas. The argument is that, with the help of Levinas, it is possible for the idea of the human to be understood anew, for the notion to be ‘resaid’. This resaying of the human is performed in a critical appropriation of the philosophical tradition: Levinas’s work is shown not to be a new variation of the complacent ideology of humanism; the idea of the human is instead interpreted to be the bearer of the very movement of critique. This movement is articulated in terms of a transcendence of a discursive ‘economy of violence’. Critique does not establish a permanent position outside of violence, but is a movement that must constantly be renewed.

Here Levinas is offered as a modern thinker of particular relevance for contemporary discussions surrounding the nature both of the political and of Human Rights. In addition one finds a systematic analysis of the major works of Levinas, unraveling how a notion of the human develops from within his philosophy.

Levinas’s thought is placed alongside philosophical figures of his time, such as Heidegger, Sartre, Bataille, Lévi-Strauss, Althusser, Foucault and Derrida, as well as more recent political thinkers, for example, Alain Badiou, Giorgio Agamben and Jacques Rancière.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9789186069216
Publisher: Sodertorn University
Publication date: 12/18/2010
Series: Södertörn Doctoral Dissertations , #52
Pages: 260
Product dimensions: 6.69(w) x 9.61(h) x 0.55(d)

About the Author

Carl Cederberg is Senior Lecturer in the Theory of Practical Knowledge at Södertörn University. His research draws on the resources of classical and continental philosophy, focusing on the crossings of political philosophy and metaphysics. Cederberg is also interested in the practical application of philosophy to contemporary professional life. His publications include translations of Heidegger, Gadamer, and Derrida.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments 7

Introduction 9

A Genealogy of the Concept 10

The Contemporary Discursive Situation 15

Argument and Structure of the Investigation 22

Part I: Origins of the Human 27
1.1 Phenomenology as the Path to the "Concrete Human" (1930-1934) 31
1.2 Riveted but Restless (1934-1939) 37
1.3 Incipit Alter (1940s) 55
1.4 Existentialist Humanism 63
1.5 Heidegger's Letter 75
1.6 Ethics of the Other (1950s) 83
1.7 The Other as Kath'auto (Totality and Infinity) 89
1.8 Return to Platonism 111
1.9 Antihumanism 119
1.9.1 Claude Lévi-Strauss and the Ambiguities of Antiplatonism 119
1.9.2 Louis Althusser and the Critique of Ideology 121
1.9.3 Michel Foucault and the Historicity of Man 122
1.10 Derrida Listening to Levinas 127
1.11 On the Notion of Justice as a "Lesser Violence" 137
1.12 Ethics of Suspicion 145

Part II: Otherwise than Humanism and Antihumanism 151
2.1 An-archic Youth 155
2.2 Resaying Subjectivity (Otherwise than Being) 179
2.3 Ideology, Hypocrisy and Critique 195
2.3.1 "Ideology and Idealism" 197
2.3.2 Politics After? 198
2.4 On the Humanity and Inhumanity of Human Rights 203
2.5 Tradition of the Universal 221

Concluding Remarks 239

Key to Abbreviations 245

List of References 249

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