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Otherwise Than Being, or, Beyond Essence

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  294 Ratings  ·  10 Reviews
Otherwise than being or beyond essence is a sequel to Levinas's totality and infinity. An immensely challenging and sophisticated work, it is generally considered Levinas's most important contribution to the contemporary debate surrounding the closure of metaphysical discourse, much commented upon by Jacques Derrida. The work contains a fundamentally original theory of the ...more
Paperback, 205 pages
Published January 1st 1999 by Duquesne University Press (first published 1974)
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May 01, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy
Radicalizing his earlier conception of intersubjective responsibility from "mere" asymmetry to a condition of being hostage to the Other, from the welcoming of the always already indigent Other into my home to the feeding of the Other with the bread from my own mouth, from the fraternal to the maternal, Levinas both moves beyond Totality and Infinity and problematizes that movement with the introduction of the third party. The primordially (or anarchically) unproblematic relation to the Other, ...more
Nov 13, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy
I had to read this about 5 times before I finally started to get it. This + Heidegger's Mindfulness = truth. And if you don't think they're compatible, you're not reading closely or liberally enough.
Jul 31, 2007 rated it liked it
perhaps if my brain was big enough to comprehend the vastness of this book, i would have enjoyed it more (rather than throw it against the wall). but still, it was rather a triumph to complete.
Aug 26, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010-11
I don't think "I really liked it" is a proper way of describing my attitude towards this book. It is probably one of the most important books and, certainly, the most difficult book in my reading history (and, mind you, I've read few of Lacan's texts as well). It takes a lot of patience and self-discipline to get to the end, but when you finish you truly feel victorious. Fortunately for me (I am not particularly patient or disciplined), I had someone to read this book with and I deeply believe i ...more
Nov 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Philosophy Geeks
Recommended to Eric by: Reading something of Jack Caputo's
Shelves: transformative
Wrote my dissertation on Levinas, so I know a lot about his life and work but I will not relate that here. His was, and maybe still is, the greatest challenge to metaphysical, ontological thinking, despite the fact that he remained trapped within it. Well, we all do, or there wouldn't be much to say about anything.

"The face of the other" as the locus for a new ethical thinking is brilliant. Infinite obligation to the other is hyperbolic magnificence. His elaboration of time is real twist on phen
Alex Obrigewitsch
Jun 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I am speechless, and yet I have so much to say. A masterwork, in ways, that inaugurates a way of thinking that can have no real beginning or end.
Dare I say it is even better than Totality and Infinity?
I will return to this work time and again, I know already.
Have I said too much? Have I said anything at all?
Or is it not about the said, but rather the saying, and what it says (and what remains unsaid)?
Chungsoo Lee
Jan 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Otherwise Than Being Or Beyond Essence is Levinas's re-statement of his axiomatic book, Totality and Infinity: An Essay on Exteriority, a re-saying the said with a new set of vocabulary and metaphors employed with greater rigor and hyperbole. Like Descartes who exaggerates his doubts, Levinas exaggerates the description of the moral subject, employing such terms as maternity, persecution, trauma, hostage, expiation, hemorrhage, sacrifice, etc. ( "The irremissible guilt with regard to the neighbo ...more
Dorian Neerdael
Jul 30, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Franchement, avant de comprendre ça, il faut déjà avoir fait pas mal de chemin. Le livre est sans doute important, et lourd de sens. Cependant, je le déteste. C'est à se demander parfois si Lévinas écrit pour ses lecteurs. Il est trop exigeant. Il demande trop d'attention lors de la lecture. C'est l'Héraclite des temps modernes.
Aug 12, 2007 rated it it was ok
i have to believe that levinas was making fun. otherwise, it's just depressing.
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  • Adieu to Emmanuel Lévinas
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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...

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“A fine risk is always something to be taken in philosophy. ... Philosophy thus arouses a drama between philosophers and an intersubjective movement which does not resemble the dialogue of teamworkers in science, nor even the Platonic dialogue which is the reminiscence of a drama rather than a drama itself. It is sketched out in a different structure; empirically it is realized as the history of philosophy in which new interlocutors always enter who have to restate, but in which the former ones take up the floor to answer in the interpretations they arouse, and in which, nonetheless, despite a lack of "certainty in one's movements" or because of it, no one is allowed a relaxation of attention or a lack of strictness.” 2 likes
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