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Have You Reread Levinas Lately? Transformations of the Face in Post-Holocaust Fiction

  • Norman Ravvin

Abstract

Not unlike handsome cities razed to rubble by war, our contemporary intellectual traditions undergo repeated attack and burial. Schools of thought spread their influence to a variety of fields and then are dismissed as outmoded; prophets are uncovered then deposed; even particularly charged words — once on everyone’s lips and in book-title after book-title — are condemned to a long afterlife as journalistic clichés. In the context of this seemingly unflagging embrace of abandonment and change, consider the name, the work, the face of Emmanuel Levinas. As I write, and possibly still as you read, Levinas is a kind of prophet. Through his interrogation of the Western philosophical tradition he has become the source of one of the key paradigm shifts of postmodern culture: a return to ethics, a remaking of our tradition in the direction of the other. In his words, the ‘being of animals is a struggle for life. A struggle for life without ethics. It is a question of might …. However, with the appearance of the human — and this is my entire philosophy — there is something more important than my life, and that is the life of the other.’1

Keywords

Human Face Ethical Relationship Fundamental Image Western Philosophical Tradition Grave Image 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Emmanuel Levinas, ‘The Paradox of Morality’, trans. T. Wright, in The Provocation of Levinas, ed. R. Bernasconi and D. Wood (London: Routledge, 1988) 169–80; 172.Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Norman Ravvin

There are no affiliations available

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