Levinas, Adorno, and the Ethics of the Material Other

Albany, NY, USA: State University of New York Press (2020)
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Abstract

Summary A provocative examination of the consequences of Levinas’s and Adorno’s thought for contemporary ethics and political philosophy. This book sets up a dialogue between Emmanuel Levinas and Theodor W. Adorno, using their thought to address contemporary environmental and social-political situations. Eric S. Nelson explores the “non-identity thinking” of Adorno and the “ethics of the Other” of Levinas with regard to three areas of concern: the ethical position of nature and “inhuman” material others such as environments and animals; the bonds and tensions between ethics and religion and the formation of the self through the dynamic of violence and liberation expressed in religious discourses; and the problematic uses and limitations of liberal and republican discourses of equality, liberty, tolerance, and their presupposition of the private individual self and autonomous subject. Thinking with and beyond Levinas and Adorno, this work examines the possibility of an anarchic hospitality and solidarity between material others and sensuous embodied life. “This is an extremely impressive, original, and thorough treatment of two key twentieth-century thinkers and their applicability to the most pressing social and political issues of our time.” — Jeffrey A. Bernstein, author of Leo Strauss on the Borders of Judaism, Philosophy, and History “This book is an excellent and timely contribution to political and environmental philosophy, located around a nuanced historical and philosophical approach to Levinas and Adorno. It will be of great interest to anyone concerned with these figures or with the current moment.” — Martin Shuster, author of Autonomy after Auschwitz: Adorno, German Idealism, and Modernity

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Eric S. Nelson
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

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