Levinas and James: Toward a Pragmatic Phenomenology
Indiana University Press, 2010 - Phenomenology - 247 pages
Bringing to light new facets in the philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas and William James, Megan Craig explores intersections between French phenomenology and American pragmatism. Craig demonstrates the radical empiricism of Levinas's philosophy and the ethical implications of James's pluralism while illuminating their relevance for two philosophical disciplines that have often held each other at arm's length. Revealing the pragmatic minimalism in Levinas's work and the centrality of imagery in James's prose, she suggests that aesthetic links are crucial to understanding what they share. Craig's suggestive readings change current perceptions and clear a path for a more open, pluralistic, and creative pragmatic phenomenology that takes cues from both philosophers.
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It is rare to find a book on philosophy that is both accessible and deeply relevant to the times, a page-turner of the highest order. By bringing together the profound phenomenologically based insights that Levinas brings to subjectivity, intersubjectivity and the infinite expanse of the alterity, the holiness, if you will, of the Other, and the radical pragmatism of William James that links philosophical inquiry to the concrete reality of everyday existence, Craig has created a tour de force that crosses multiple boundaries including that between philosophical insight into the contingencies of human existence and artistic expression engendered by and reflecting the affective response to the meaning attached to these conditions.