Essential Vulnerabilities

Essential Vulnerabilities : Plato and Levinas on Relations to the Other

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Description

In Essential Vulnerabilities, Deborah Achtenberg contests Emmanuel Levinas's idea that Plato is a philosopher of freedom for whom thought is a return to the self. Instead, Plato, like Levinas, is a philosopher of the other. Nonetheless, Achtenberg argues, Plato and Levinas are different. Though they share the view that human beings are essentially vulnerable and essentially in relation to others, they conceive human vulnerability and responsiveness differently. For Plato, when we see beautiful others, we are overwhelmed by the beauty of what is, by the vision of eternal form. For Levinas, we are disrupted by the newness, foreignness, or singularity of the other. The other, for him, is new or foreign, not eternal. The other is unknowable singularity. By showing these similarities and differences, Achtenberg resituates Plato in relation to Levinas and opens up two contrasting ways that self is essentially in relation to others.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 224 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 20.32mm | 340.19g
  • Evanston, United States
  • English
  • 0810135639
  • 9780810135635

Review quote

"I don't think I can overstress how generative this book is. Pairing Levinas and Plato like this allows for more refined answers to the questions 'what is knowledge?' 'what is virtue?' and 'what is goodness?' in both thinkers. In addition, Achtenberg offers a more refined view of how exactly it is that Levinasian epistemology serves as a critique of the Western philosophical tradition."--Martin Kavka, coeditor of The Cambridge History of Jewish Philosophy: The Modern Era
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About Deborah Achtenberg

Deborah Achtenberg is a professor of philosophy at the University of Nevada, Reno, and the author of Cognition.
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