Review of book on Levinas

Some of you understand and like Levinas, and there’s a recent book on his view of time, reviewed here. Representative quote:

If the instant is often understood as a liberating hiatus from the flux of time, only achievable internally by the self-present subject, then Levinas is original in claiming that the instant is more akin to captivity and powerlessness (50). The instant is a timeless present, without motion and without hope for the future; this point is disclosed readily in the experience of insomnia. For Levinas, this entails a distinct privation of time, a riveting to immanence. It is the very lack of transcendence (61). Given this reading of the instant, Severson shows, through a compelling interpretation of the unusual ideas that fill Existence and Existents, how Levinas positions himself to argue later for an “eschatological redemption of the instant” (61), which casts time as “a gift from the other” (63). Only the other, Levinas will argue, can deliver the insomniac from the terror of the night and set time in motion again. Hope, at this point, becomes the foundation of Levinas’s philosophy of time.

Enjoy!

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