Genocide and the Totalizing Philosopher: A Levinasian Analysis

  • Leonard Grob
Chapter

Abstract

In the face of the Socratic charge to examine the nature of all that is, the failure of philosophers to pay little more than passing attention to genocide should give us pause. Although a number of contemporary thinkers have begun to attend to that evil, and although a few, such as Hannah Arendt and Theodor Adorno, had done so much earlier than most, philosophers have usually gone about their business as if the genocidal events that bloodied the twentieth century, and still loom large in the twenty-first, simply had not occurred.1 How are we to account for this glaring omission in philosophy’s history?

Keywords

Posit Arena Defend 

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Notes

  1. 2.
    Emmanuel Levinas, Totality and Infinity: An Essay on Exteriority, trans. Alphonso Lingis (Pittsburgh, PA: Duquesne University Press, 1969), p. 43.Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness, trans. Hazel Barnes (New York: Pocket Books, 1956), pp. 474–5.Google Scholar
  3. 6.
    Emmanuel Levinas, “The Paradox of Morality: An Interview With Emmanuel Levinas,” in Robert Bernasconi and David Wood, eds, The Provocation of Levinas: Rethinking the Other, trans. Andrew Benjamin and Tamara Wright (London: Routledge and Kegan, 1988), p. 172.Google Scholar
  4. 8.
    Emmanuel Levinas, “Transcendence and Evil,” trans. Alphonso Lingis, in A. T. Tymieniecka, ed., The Phenomenology of Man and of the Human Condition (Dordrecht, MA: D. Reidel, 1983), p. 163.Google Scholar
  5. 10.
    Richard J. Bernstein, Radical Evil: A Philosophical Interrogation (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2002), p. 179.Google Scholar
  6. 12.
    Emmanuel Levinas, “The Other, Utopia, and Justice,” trans. Michael B. Smith, in Jill Robbins, ed., Is It Righteous To Be? Interviews with Emmanuel Levinas (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2001), p. 204.Google Scholar
  7. 14.
    Emmanuel Levinas, Ethics and Infinity: Conversations with Philippe Nemo, trans. Richard A. Cohen (Pittsburgh, PA: Duquesne University Press, 1985), pp. 95–6.Google Scholar
  8. 16.
    Roger Burggraeve, “The Bible Gives To Thought: Levinas on The Possibility and Proper Nature of Biblical Thinking,” in Jeffrey Bloechl, ed., The Face of the Other and the Trace of God (New York: Fordham University Press, 2003), p. 177.Google Scholar

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© Leonard Grob 2005

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  • Leonard Grob

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