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Customer Review

on August 24, 2007
Nancy's book is an important, if belated, contribution to a philosophical understanding of a sensory modality at least as crucial for social existence and aesthetic experience as vision. But it is vision that, from Plato to Husserl, received all the attention, until Derrida, Levinas, and Nancy undertook a critique of the metaphysics of presence, which vision has always encouraged. I find Nancy's book very helpful, very insightful. It is a shame, however, that he does not reflect on listening as a capacity that can be developed in, and as, a "practice of the self". Self-development, "Bildungsprozesse", has simply not been a theme for contemporary philosophy, as it was for the eighteenth & nineteenth centuries. In this regard, there is a useful book published in 1988 by Routledge, namely David Michael Levin's The Listening Self, which lays out the phases of a process in the development of the human capacity for listening,a process that the author follows through its consummate moment in Heidegger's thought, where ontic hearing becomes "hearkening", an "ontological organ", registering the very gift of an auditory field, the opening up of a resonance-field for our hearing. Nancy's book implicitly draws the reader into this field, an abyss where what at one time what was called the "music of the spheres" can be heard resounding.
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