The Face of Things

A Different Side of Ethics

By Silvia Benso

Subjects: Heidegger
Series: SUNY series in Contemporary Continental Philosophy
Paperback : 9780791445747, 296 pages, June 2000
Hardcover : 9780791445730, 296 pages, June 2000

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Table of contents




Part I. Levinas: Love without Things

1. Out of Love: The Break with Parmenides

2. In Love: Ethics as the Meeting Place

3. My Love, Who Are You? The Face of the Beloved Other

4. Without Love: The Disappearance of Things

Part II. Heidegger: Things without Love

5. The Question of Things

6. Phenomenologically, Things

7. Instrumental Modes of Disclosure

8. Artistic Modes of Disclosure

9. Ethical Disclosure? The Faciality of Things

Part III. The Ethics of Things: Tender Love, Festive Things

10. Prelude: Toward an Ethics of Things

11. Things' Obsessive Appeal

12. Touch, Attention, Tenderness

13. Saddened Tenderness: Violence and Resistance

14. Festive Celebrations




Engages Levinas and Heidegger on the provocative issue of an ethics of things.


Here's a book that dispels the traditional tendency of philosophy to ignore the alterity of things. Drawing on two major figures in the continental tradition—Levinas and Heidegger—author Silvia Benso engages them on the provocative issue of an ethics of things. She argues that Levinas advances an ethics without things, and Heidegger proffers a conception of things without ethics. Taking up their respective meditations on ethics and things precisely at the point where they abandon such themes, and exposing them to each other, Benso innovatively elaborates an ethical attitude toward things capable of celebrating their alterity—a demand rendered urgent and compelling by the contemporary environmental crisis. Creatively centered on a philosophical hermeneutics of tenderness, The Face of Things advances the everyday time of festivity as the novel dimension within which the alterity of things can be recognized, preserved, and celebrated.

Silvia Benso is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Siena College. She is the author of Pensare dopo Auschwitz. Etica filosofica e teodicea ebraica.


"Benso's elegant study takes its starting point in Heidegger and Levinas and shows a good understanding of their thought, but her goal is to develop what she calls 'an ethics of things.' She employs Levinasian resources to develop an ethics of things and to use Levinas against Levinas in a way that is novel and provocative." — Robert Bernasconi, author of Heidegger in Question: The Art of Existing

"This book is perfectly situated to deal with questions raised by environmental concerns as well as ethical, social, and political questions about human relationships and community. It is a wonderful contribution to on-going debates about an ethics and theory of subjectivity and of the other which is adequate to the times we live in and which can address contemporary problems of social violence, alienation, and environmental devastation." — Tamsin E. Lorraine, author of Irigaray & Deleuze: Experiments in Visceral Philosophy