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Levinas, the Frankfurt School and Psychoanalysis (Disseminations, Psychoanalysis in Contexts) [Paperback]

By C. Fred Alford (Author)
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Item Number 93473  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   220
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.13" Width: 6.14" Height: 0.55"
Weight:   0.66 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Mar 5, 2003
Publisher   Wesleyan
ISBN  0819566039  
EAN  9780819566034  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Talmudic scholar and postmodern philosopher Emmanuel Levinas was one of the 20th-century's most important philosophers. Maurice Blanchot, Jacques Derrida, Luce Irigaray and Jean-Francois Lyotard were among the thinkers most influenced by Levinas. Drawing upon both the object relations tradition in psychoanalysis, as well as the work of the Frankfurt School of Critical Theory, C. Fred Alford argues that postmodern ethics such as that inspired by Levinas risk devaluing ordinary human attachments in favor of relationships "without relation," as Levinas puts it. An accessible introduction to Levinas and an insightful critique of the Frankfurt School, this book will be a valuable contribution to the fields of philosophy, critical theory and psychoanalysis.

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More About C. Fred Alford

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! C. Fred Alford is Professor of Government and Politics and Distinguished Scholar-Teacher at the University of Maryland, College Park. He is author of over fifteen books on moral psychology, including After the Holocaust (2009) and Psychology and the Natural Law of Reparation (2006).

C. Fred Alford currently resides in the state of Maryland. C. Fred Alford has an academic affiliation as follows - University of Maryland, College Park.

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Product Categories
1Books > Subjects > Health, Mind & Body > Psychology & Counseling > General   [14887  similar products]
2Books > Subjects > Health, Mind & Body > Psychology & Counseling > Psychoanalysis   [2552  similar products]
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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Sophomoric reading of Levinas...  Aug 3, 2005
...and that's being generous! I very much dislike reviews that do not find anything positive to say about a book. With the first reviewer, I agree that Alford glosses a burgeoning line of research in treating Levinas alongside the Frankfurt School and psychoanalysis. Other than that...

This book is bad! badly researched, badly written. Alford's treatment of Levinas betrays an utter ignorance of the intellectual milieu, style, and history from which Levinas lived and wrote. The Levinas Alford `criticizes' is unrecognizable to any informed reader. Here are a couple quick examples:

1) Alford reads Levinas as affirming a "supreme non-being," laughable in that Levinas wrote a book critiquing negation and a certain notion of the sacred (see Existence and Existents). Infinite responsability irrupts in the trace of alterity in the face of the other. This otherness is 'supreme' in the sense of height or exigence, yet it is not 'non-being,' a being, or Being at all: this alterity is 'otherwise than being or beyond essence': goodness.

2) To elaborate a bit on 1: Alford totally misunderstands Levinas's notion of the infinite. He seems to read Levinas as fundamentalists read the scripture. As a phenomenologist, Levinas articulates in a subtle and nuanced way the manner in which the singularity of the other person affects and conditions the self. The `infinite' does not refer to the big guy in the sky, but, rather, is the only adequate indication of the irreducible uniqueness of the other person and, concomitantly, of the self. This uniqueness, on Levinas's account, is the source of what we call ethics.

3) Alford claims Levinas "depersonalizes" the human other, and implies that L's ethics is abstract and otherworldly. Interesting in that Levinas early method rested on what he called (following yet going beyond Husserl) "intentionality of concretization." He was influenced by Rosenzweig, Buber, and Marcel, all personalists. His later, more rhetorical, method invokes the deepest of human affects to indicate that which words and concepts always fail. There is a subtle anti-humanism in Levinas, a resistance toward a certain totalizing modernist humanism. Yet Levinas's point is that humanism must become more human, not an immodest proposal in the wake of the death camps.

There are a slew of ironies in this book. Alford seems to like Totality more the Otherwise because the descriptions are more readable. Funny, in that Otherwise is the more `psychoanalytic' text of the two. Alford chides Levinas's style, perhaps out of envy, in that this book reads like a high school book report. In Alford's allergic reactions to religious imagery and metaphor one reads a deep nostalgia for the by-gone days of rationalist reductionism. It's as amusing as reading Evangelical `apologetics.'

If you are interested in Levinas in relation to psychoanalysis check out Critchely or Butler. If his relation to the Frankfurt School, check out Hent De Vries "Minimal Theologies." For good thematic introductions to Levinas see R.A. Cohen's 'Elevations'.

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