Fall 2013 - Graduate Course Descriptions

Patterson, David
Discipline and Number
HUHI 6395 Section 001
M Time 10:00 AM - 12:45 PM
Course Title
Emmanuel Levinas

Description of Course:

This course will examine the thinking of one of the major Jewish philosophers of the 20th century, Emmanuel Levinas (1906 – 1995). The focus of the course will be on (1) ways in which Levinas confronted the thinking of Martin Heidegger, (2) what makes his thinking distinctively Jewish, and (3) in what ways his philosophy constitutes a distinctively Jewish philosophical response to the Holocaust. Primary questions raised in the course will include: (1) In what ways is Heideggerian thought consistent with the Nazi program of extermination (Heidegger was an unrepentant Nazi)? (2) Does the accent of Levinas on ethics as first philosophy constitute an adequate response to the Western ontological tradition? (3) Is the response of Levinas adequate to the task? And (4) What makes Levinas a Jewish thinker?

Required Texts:

Emmanuel Levinas, Ethics and Infinity
Emmanuel Levinas, Existence and Existents
Emmanuel Levinas, Time and the Other
Emmanuel Levinas, Totality and Infinity
Emmanuel Levinas, Difficult Freedom
Emmanuel Levinas, Nine Talmudic Readings
Emmanuel Levinas, Otherwise Than Being or Beyond Essence

Course Requirements/Evaluation Criteria:

With the approval of the instructor, students may write on any topic pertaining to the questions raised in the class, but all research topics should integrate a variety of academic disciplines as they pertain to the Holocaust. Students will be evaluated on the basis of (1) an analytical paper of at least 4000 words and (2) class participation. The paper will account for 85% and class participation for 15% of the grade for the course.

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