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Totalità e infinito. Saggio sull'esteriorità

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  1,245 Ratings  ·  40 Reviews
En filosofía, ni se puede retroceder a antes de Heidegger ni es posible dar por buena su barbarie. La ardua tarea del filósofo consiste en aprovechar para la nueva filosofía lo que aquél no ha logrado integrar sabiamente en su enseñanza y que sigue vivo y lleno de porvenir en Platón, Descartes, Husserl y, desde luego, en el monoteísmo bíblico, entendido como fuente de sent ...more
Paperback, 376 pages
Published 1995 by Jaca Book (first published 1961)
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Chungsoo Lee
Jan 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Altering the very first sentence of this extraordinary and highly original book, I quote: "Everyone will readily agree that it is of the highest importance to know whether we are not duped by freedom." I have, of course, replaced the word "freedom" for "morality." In altering the sentence, however, as I hope to show, I have not altered the central theme of the book (first published in French in 1961). This is so, not because morality and freedom are interchangeable, as many maintain, but, quite ...more
Robert Wechsler
This work of philosophy shows how ethics is based on one’s relationship with an other, which is accomplished in the form of a welcome, including gift-giving and respect, rather than with violence, that is, any attempt to dominate or make use of an other.

What is most striking about the book is how poetic it is, how it makes use of poetic devices such as wordplay and repetition, and how it depends on the experience of reading the book rather than on proving what is asserted. The book, therefore, a
Dec 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Levinas applies Phenomenology to Buber to argue that Ethics begins with the intrusion of the face of another human into the confines of consciousness.
Dec 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Every time I read this, I realize how my understanding of Levinas is partial.
It's rather unquestionable how much impact Levinas had on French philosophy. And his argument is, at times, fascinating. It's just that I disagree with the initial premise so much that I disagree with so many ideas that Levinas extracts from that premise. Was it a worthy intellectual exercise to read? Yes, absolutely. It's just that to really get it, you have to put yourself in the shoes of a Talmudic scholar who survived the Holocaust, and deeply wanted to wash phenomenology clean of the dirt H ...more
Francisco Zuniga

Levinas has put love into philosophical terms. I don't mean romantic love. I mean love as in the giving of oneself for the well-being of all others.
Peter Korotaev
May 01, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
i fundamentally disagreed with the aim of this book. given the context, what levinas wrote was necessary, but i can't agree with his distrust of written representation. to me, it comes off as a categorical mistake, mistaking a poem for a representation of the Other, when this is simply not what art aims to do. i also couldn't stand the second half or so of this book when he starts going on about enjoyment, a laughably caricatured and misogynistic analysis of 'femininity' and Eros, and ''''fecund ...more
Sep 21, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy, france
Equal parts good, bad and ugly. Levinas has a tendency to assert [some abstract concept] "presupposes" another, mostly to banal effect. Justice, he says, "presupposes truth," which doesn't exactly ring true: justice presupposes moral right, not truth. Levinas tends to wash over this type of distinction, and it gives many of his expressions the feeling of being a bit off. Another instance: "Contemplation in any case presupposes the very mobilization of the thing, grasped by the hand." Contemplati ...more
Czarny Pies
Jun 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Chrétiens et juifs
Recommended to Czarny by: Jean Paul II
Shelves: philosophy
D'après Sartre, l'enfer c'est les autres. D'après Levinas, le visage de Dieu, c'est les autres ce qui explique pourquoi le pape Jean Paul II a encouragé les catholiques à lire les textes de Levinas.

Il faut comprendre que "Totalité et Infini" est très difficile à comprendre. Si vous n'avez pas suivi quelques cours de philosophie à l'université, je vous conseille de lire "Ethique et infini" avant d'entreprendre ce livre qui constitue un défi de taille.
Aug 31, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Certainly, an incredibly difficult book--but definitely one well worth the effort. Levinas presents so much to contemplate in a way I find other (alter, perhaps) than in most other forms of expression. The ideas presented here must be continually remembered and reflected on, in my view--very highly recommended.
Nov 05, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Levinas has rekindled my faith that it is possible to act ethically and be a generally "good" person without subscribing to any particular codification of religion. Amazing book, if you can get through it. It made my head hurt!
Oct 16, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another college book. I read this my senior year. Obviously most of it has been lost to memory. What has not been lost is the conversation I had eating warm johnnie bread, drinking stolen wine and talking about the Other with my roommate and another friend well into the night. Levinas' project is fascinating because he is trying to take the existiential phenomenology that Heidegger develops and argue that Alethia is structured by the ethics of the other. Much of this ultimately tends to be too m ...more
Noé Ajo caamaño
Emmanuel Levinas ha pasado por el holocausto, y ni su pensamiento ni el de ningún filósofo podrá ya trabajar como si aquello no hubiera ocurrido. Su filosofía, aunque pensando las grandes ideas tradicionales de la totalidad y el infinito, aterriza en la responsabilidad incuestionable que instaura la mirada del otro, la cual funda la ética. Se piensa la totalidad y el infinito, pero solo por tener que cuidar al ser humano de carne y hueso, al otro que que nos impone su rostro. No obstante, ideali ...more
May 24, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is full of rich and provocative insights. Levinas developed his philosophical insights--a blend of themes of phenomenology with ideas from Bergson and German Idealism--during the same period that Heidegger and Sartre were developing their philosophies, and there is strong resonance between all three. What is frustrating about this book, though, is that, (1) unlike the works by Sartre and Heidegger, it is often characterized by an approach to language that seems contrived and (2) it is ...more
Oct 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: magna-opera
Levinas restores the phenomenological inseparability of the philosophical and the theological in the face of the Other in this deeply ethical work. This work is hard to read. It takes vigor and commitment to get through it. I would recommend, first, just pushing through the entirety of the work before stopping and sorting it all out. This work is not linear. There is a lot of back-and-forth, and it really must be read as such. Otherwise, an amazing work whose heaviness ought not be ignored.
Okla Elliott
Jul 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Levinas has emerged as one of the four or five most influential European philosophers of the second half of the twentieth century, and Totality and Infinity should be considered his first major philosophical treatise. If you only read one book by Levinas, this ought to be the one.
Problematic not for its ideas and fundamental points, though those are flawed, but for the presentation, which is not very persuasive or sensible. Grounding ethics in the distance between self and other is a fairly fascinating idea in itself, but Levinas doesn't flesh it out well.
Mar 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If there is true, its elsewhere
Jun 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
Indeed one of the hardest thinkers to sync up with, Levinas carries the reader from the interiority of the self, which sets out from the enjoyment that is itself an end for all conscious creatures, to the encounter with the Other that calls the self into question—exteriority, which is defined by the living dialog between humans who exceed one another. This encounter turns out to be the condition of possibility for genuine human freedom and responsibility—the moral, which is prior to the politica ...more
Zane Chleboun
Oct 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It broke my heart to discover that Levinas ended up being almost ironically ethnocentric. But aside from that, Totality and Infinity is still of high regard and importance for Levinas’ view of ethics as proto-philosophy (and still poetically written).
Idea: people live in a comfortable bubble of manageability, a flow of enjoyment, until they meet real other people (who break into that bubble), who hold them to the standard of responding to another person, which is an ethical obligation to the other person's needs, as though the Other is your master and you are its slave, but not in a bad way. That's the main thing I got out of the book.

I think the reason the book is very much longer than that paragraph is that it's trying to show phenomenolo
Jan 12, 2017 added it
Shelves: favorites
Considerato in se stesso, lo spazio illuminato, svuotato dalla luce dell’oscurità che lo riempie, non è niente. Questo vuoto non equivale ovviamente al niente assoluto, superarlo non equivale a trascendere. Ma se lo spazio vuoto si distingue dal niente e se la distanza che esso scava non giustifica la pretesa alla trascendenza che potrebbe essere eretta dal movimento che la attraversa, la sua “pienezza” non lo riconduce assolutamente allo statuto di oggetto. Questa “pienezza” appartiene ad un or ...more
Feb 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Absolutely outstanding. Just incredible. I found myself sailing through this text and just could not put it down. His critique of Hegel and Heidegger was really quite wonderful. Levinas completely revolutionizes our conception of the Other as something that cannot be contained, reduced, or captured. This is such a powerful notion because that is exactly what we do - we subsume the Other under our categories of the understanding, under Reason. Levinas opens our eyes to what was always, already th ...more
Michaela Wood
Nov 28, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: philosophers
I found this book has shone in my memory for such a long time as a book everyone should read because it explored the ideas of 'self' and 'other' with such ease. This is a kind of ease one develops when one has seen first hand the horrors that ensue from the fragmentation of morality. Levinas was a survivor of the Shoa (better term than holocaust) and he saw whjat it was in the Nazi philosophy that allowed men and women to act immorally to the Jew, the Homosexual (evebn though many of the Nazis w ...more
May 01, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in ethics.
Shelves: philosophy
Levinas's first major treatment of his conception of ethics as first philosophy. At its center is a view of the ethical relation as fundamentally asymmetrical, due to the dual height and destitution of the Other. An ethics founded on the face-to-face, Levinas runs into trouble when he attempts to move "beyond the face" and offer a phenomenology of Eros that has been very pointedly critiqued by Irigaray.
Vincenzo Politi
Although Levinas' general ehitcal-phenomenological project is an important one, the Devil as usual lurks and dwells in the details. And, at a careful reading, there are many philosophically devilish details in this often convoluted essay.
Jul 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant. Mind blowing. Life re-orientating. An excellent jumping off point for a new way of thinking/being. Not only brings it's own reevaluation for a more communal way of being but also brings a justification as to why it or others may never be the full answer.
David Markwell
A difficult, frustrating, and often fascinating read. Levinas is incredible tough to read (in my head he occupies the place of philosophical free-jazz), but I think there are some very poignant notions in this book.
Mar 14, 2008 is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition

Section III approaches after only 2 years of close reading in the desert...
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  • Margins of Philosophy
  • Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology
  • Difference and Repetition
  • Truth and Method
  • Negative Dialectics
  • The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity: Twelve Lectures
  • The Visible and the Invisible
  • Being and Event
  • Critique of Cynical Reason
  • Creative Evolution
  • Introduction to Phenomenology
  • Process and Reality
  • The Writing of the Disaster
  • The Accursed Share 1: Consumption
Emanuelis Levinas (later adapted to French orthography as Emmanuel Levinas) received a traditional Jewish education in Lithuania. After WWII, he studied the Talmud under the enigmatic "Monsieur Chouchani", whose influence he acknowledged only late in his life.

Levinas began his philosophical studies at Strasbourg University in 1924, where he began his lifelong friendship with the French philosopher
More about Emmanuel Levinas...
“To approach the Other in conversation is to welcome his expression, in which at each instant he overflows the idea a thought would carry away from it. It is therefore to receive from the Other beyond the capacity of the I, which means exactly: to have the idea of infinity. But this also means: to be taught. The relation with the Other, or Conversation, is a non-allergic relation, an ethical relation; but inasmuch as it is welcomed this conversation is a teaching. Teaching is not reducible to maieutics; it comes from the exterior and brings me more than I contain. In its non-violent transitivity the very epiphany of the face is produced.” 34 likes
“Love remains a relation with the Other that turns into need, transcendent exteriority of the other, of the beloved. But love goes beyond the beloved... The possibility of the Other appearing as an object of a need while retaining his alterity, or again,the possibility of enjoying the Other... this simultaneity of need and desire, or concupiscence and transcendence,... constitutes the originality of the erotic which, in this sense, is the equivocal par excellence.” 14 likes
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