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Sensibility and Singularity: The Problem of Phenomenology in Levinas (Suny Series in Contemporary Continental Philosophy) Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Series: Suny Series in Contemporary Continental Philosophy
  • Hardcover: 249 pages
  • Publisher: State Univ of New York Pr (April 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0791448975
  • ISBN-13: 978-0791448977
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,969,738 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Is Emmanuel Levinas a dismissive critic of Husserlian phenomenology, or an important member of its movement? The standard account of Levinas's work assumes his distance from Husserl. In opposition to this account, Sensibility and Singularity contends that Husserl was a vital, living resource for Levinas throughout his philosophical career. The singularity of the Other is the centerpiece of Levinas's thought. The philosophical significance of this singularity, however, cannot be fully appreciated without attending to Levinas's transformation of the Husserlian themes of time, materiality, intentionality, and sense. This book documents those transformations and establishes their centrality to Levinas's notion of ethics. What emerges from this reading is a thorough account of Levinas's constant and productive debate with the Husserlian tradition of phenomenology. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

John E. Drabinski is Visiting Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Grand Valley State University, Michigan --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Sheldon Hanlon on April 30, 2007
Format: Paperback
Drabinski's book is the first full-length treatment of Levinas' relation to Husserl to appear in English, and for this reason it will occupy an important place in Levinas scholarship for many years to come. Anyone with a serious interest in Levinas' relation to Husserl should take this book seriously.

Drabinski's argument is, among many things, a response to Dominique Janicaud's argument that the so-called "theological turn" in phenomenology---which Janicaud thinks begins with Levinas---does not remain true to the central tenets of the phenomenological method. Drabinski argues that Levinas does not "escape" from phenomenology, but rather extends its boundaries by reworking the idea of sensibility from within. This reworking is accomplished from within Husserl's method itself, so, Drabinski reasons, Levinas' relation to Husserl is essentially a positive one.

Drabinski shows a deep acquaintance with both Levinas' thought and phenomenology in general, and the quality of scholarship is high. If there is one problem with this book, however, it would be with Drabinski's assessment of Levinas' relation to Heidegger. Heidegger always remained an important phenomenological influence on Levinas, and it would have been useful for Drabinski to indicate in more depth exactly how Heidegger fits in Levinas' constellation of influences.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Stacy Bautista on September 19, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Drabinski's study of Levinas's relation to Husserl is long overdue. Arguing against reading Levinas as primarily an ethicist, Drabinski lays out a compelling argument that Levinas's major contribution to phenomenology is in the area of the problem of sense: what is its origin? Or is that the appropriate question?

The book follows Levinas's development from his early works through _Otherwise Than Being_. Richard Cohen and others have noted the "remarkable continuity" of Levinas's thought: Drabinski bears this claim out, but locates this continuity not in explicit theorizing of the ethical relationship, but in the pursuit of the intentionality ("intentionality") proper to sensibility. As another reviewer has noted, this work offers a critical rebuttal to Janicaud's reading of Levinas as methodologically irresponsible. It also makes the case (although not explicitly) that a new (and this time complete) English translation of the final version of "En decouvrant l'existence avec Husserl et Heidegger" is needed: this work has only been partially translated, and one of the key essays in it that Drabinski uses to make his case has not, to my knowledge, ever been published in English.

Although there are points that are puzzling (the treatment of metaphysical Desire, for example), and (again, as a previous reviewer has noted) the treatment of Levinas's relationship to Heidegger is less than satisfying (especially given its brevity - really only one paragraph, and this by way of clearing the way for a demonstration of Levinas's Husserlian orientation), and some readers no doubt would wish that Levinas's more theological works were given more attention, still this is a remarkable and enlightening study, deserving of more attention. It is well worth reading and owning.
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