Press releases of Europa-Universität Flensburg (EUF)

Levinas and the Real: Politics, Community, Religion

International conference at Europa-Universität Flensburg focuses on the political dimension of the work of Emmanuel Levinas

Sovereignty and hospitality, dignity and the limits of forgiveness, vulnerability and The Other - The topics of the conference "Levinas and the real: Politics, Community, Religion" are interdisciplinarily anchored in the present and extremely relevant. Divided into seven sections, the international and interdisciplinary conference deals with the significance of the Lithuanian-French philosopher Emmanuel Levinas for the present.

A work with a political concern

"Levinas’s philosophy has inaugurated a new ethical discourse in phenomenology, philosophy of dialogue and deconstruction. The political dimension of this philosophy, however, has frequently been perceived as negligible or even inexistent. Moreover, Levinas’s extreme and utopian ethics may give the impression that it is incompatible with everyday life. Although Levinas’s scholars have written about social-political questions in his thinking, until recently most of them have understood them as marginal in his philosophy", explains philosopher Dr. Pascal Delhom from Europa-Universität Flensburg, who organizes the conference together with Prof. Dr. Annabel Herzog from University of Haifa.

 "Our conference, ‘Levinas and the Real’, will propose another interpretation of Levinas’s thinking and argue that his entire work was infused with political concerns. We will emphasize that Levinas’s understanding of responsibility, peace, mercy and hospitality should be understood as responding to the fundamental problem of violence, which he addresses through a reflection on the concept of justice and which affects his understanding of freedom, rationality, language and institutions. In this sense, Levinas’s philosophy is concerned with concrete problems of human life."

Talmud readings play important role

Recent publications have renewed the understanding of the political dimension of Levinas’s philosophy and their authors will participate to the conference, as for example, Michael Morgan and Annabel Herzog. She invites to a reinterpretation of Levinas’s political thinking guided by a reading of his Talmudic commentaries. Those readings will also play an important role in the conference "In our conference, we will try to reconcile the divergent views on Levinas’s two corpuses of texts", Delhom explains.

The invited participants will come from a wide range of disciplines: philosophy, political science, religions studies, history of ideas, , literature. These participants have published in a variety of languages not always translated into English. For instance, the German and Israeli receptions of Levinas are barely acknowledged outside of their linguistic spheres. The organizers of the conference, coming from Flensburg and Haifa, propose to promote an open exchange including different backgrounds and perspectives.


Program of the conference