Saying Peace

Levinas, Eurocentrism, Solidarity

By Jack Marsh

Subjects: Continental Philosophy, Jewish Philosophy, Theology, Postcolonial Studies, Cultural Studies
Series: SUNY series in Theology and Continental Thought
Hardcover : 9781438482651, 386 pages, October 2021
Paperback : 9781438482644, 386 pages, July 2022

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Table of contents

Key to Abbreviations of Works by Levinas


1. Empty Hands: The Tragic Irony of Totality and Infinity

2. Of Form and Face in Totality and Infinity

3. "Flipping the Deck," On Totality and Infinity's Transcendental/Empirical Puzzle

4. Ontology and Ethics in Otherwise than Being

5. Levinas, Eurocentrism, Justice

6. Levinas: A Life

7. Levinas Today

8. Conclusions and Beginnings

Name Index

Offers an immanent critique of Levinas’s core philosophical proposals by reference to his allegedly eurocentric statements.


Levinas's big idea is that our lived sense of moral obligation occurs in an immediate experience of the otherness of the Other, and that moral meaning is grounded in alterity rather than identity. Yet he also held what seemed an inconsiderate, or "eurocentric," view of other cultural traditions. In Saying Peace, Jack Marsh explores this problem, testing the coherence and adequacy of Levinas's central philosophical claims. Using a twofold method of reconstruction and critique, Marsh conducts a holistic immanent evaluation of Levinas's major works, showing how the problem of eurocentrism, and abiding ambiguities in Levinas's political and religious thought, can be traced back to specific problems in his general philosophical methodology. Marsh offers an original analysis of Levinas's method that verifies and extends existing critical work by Jacques Derrida, Robert Bernasconi, Judith Butler, and others. This is the first book to foreground the normative question of chauvinism in Levinas's work, and the first to perform a holistic critical diagnosis of his general philosophical method.

Jack Marsh received his PhD in philosophy from Binghamton University, State University of New York, and is a PhD candidate in theology at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. He is the coeditor (with Matthew Burch and Irene McMullin) of Normativity, Meaning, and the Promise of Phenomenology.