War, Politics, and Radical Pluralism

Part of the American University Publications in Philosophy book series (MNPL, volume 29)


Since Heraclitus proclaimed that “war is king of all” the ontological foundations of war and peace have been seriously neglected, even though war and peace as social phenomena have been a daily concern.1 Furthermore, the philosophical or ontological status of politics has been equally neglected in spite of a plenitude of proposals within political theory regarding the foundations of government and suggestions for the organization of society, which seldom offered a philosophical analysis of the essential nature of the political itself. This essay is concerned with these neglected foundations of war, peace, and politics by way of an analysis of the social philosophy of a leading French phenomenologist, Emmanuel Levinas. It is fortunate that in this decade there is already a significant rebirth of social philosophy among professional philosophers after a long period of professional neglect. It is especially to be noted hat within the phenomenological movement unique and creative suggestions appear regarding the nature and foundation of social reality and human community.2 Likewise phenomenology is receiving increased attention from social scientists for, since Husserl’s analysis of the European crisis, it has offered creative interpretation of the person and the phenomenon of intersubjectivity.3


Western Philosophy Essential Nature Social Philosophy Ontological Foundation Professional Philosopher 
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  1. 1.
    Heraclitus, Fragment 44, translated by Burnet, J., Early Greek Philosophy (London: A. & C. Black, 1930) p. 136.Google Scholar
  2. 2a.
    See especially Heidegger’s analysis of “Being-With” in Heidegger, M., Being And Time (New York: Harper & Row, 1962); Sartre’s interpretation of the dialectic of the individual and the group.Google Scholar
  3. 2b.
    Sartre, J-P. Critique de la raison dialectique (Paris: Gallimard, 1960);Google Scholar
  4. 2c.
    also Merleau-Ponty, M. Humanism And Terror (Boston: Beacon Press, 1969);Google Scholar
  5. 2d.
    Camus, A. The Rebel (New York: A. A. Knopf, 1956);Google Scholar
  6. 2e.
    Buber, M. I And Thou (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1937);Google Scholar
  7. 2f.
    Durfee, H. A. “Karl Jaspers As The Metaphysician Of Tolerance,” International Journal For Philosophy Of Religion, 1 (1970) 201–210;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 2g.
    Schutz, A. The Phenomenology Of The Social World (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1967). Some, but by no means all, of these positions were elaborated in the European dialogue with Marxism, but frequently offer creative insight into the nature of social life quite independent of that particular setting.Google Scholar
  9. 3.
    See Husserl, E., The Crisis Of European Sciences And Transcendental Phenomenology (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1970).Google Scholar
  10. 4.
    As the primary source for most of these suggestions see Levinas, E. Totality And Infinity (Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press, 1969). Page references within parentheses in the text refer to this volume.Google Scholar
  11. 5.
    For a more complete evaluation of Levinas’ philosophical position see Durfee, H. A. “Emmanuel Levinas’ Philosophy of Language,” in Blose, B., Durfee, H. A., Rodier, D. F. T., Explanation: New Directions In Philosophy (The Hague: M. Nijhoff, 1973).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, Dordrecht 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The American UniversityUSA

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