Like Plato, Emmanuel Levinas believed that ethics was the most fundamental philosophical discipline. This title examines broader dimensions which are linked to the political realm, and the problems they pose for ethics. It demonstrates that both Plato and Levinas come to identify 3 realms as ambiguous: the erotic, the artistic, and the political.
Introduction a) The Central Question b) Plato's Phaedrus c) Levinas's Two Main Works d) Levinas on Plato e) Methodological Remarks f) Before Culture Part I: The Self Chapter 1: Preliminary Reflections on the Self a) Interiority and the Myth of Gyges b) Otherness in the Same Chapter 2: Dimensions of Corporeality a) Levinas and the Body as Vulnerability b) The Body in Plato's Phaedrus Chapter 3: Enjoyment or Suffering? Modes of Sensibility a) The "permanent truth of hedonist moralities" b) Pleasure, Pain, and Vulnerability Part II: The Other Chapter 4: Origins of Speech a) Speech as Apology b) Socratic and Levinasian Teaching Chapter 5: The Ambiguity of Eros a) Levinas about Eros between Being and Non-Being b) Plato on Beauty and Wings c) The Place of Eros Chapter 6: The Ethical Relationship a) The Paradox of Ethical Resistance b) An Infinite Responsibility c) Getting under the Skin Part III: The Others Chapter 7: The Universality of the Good a) Levinas and Universal Humanism b) Plato and the Good beyond Being Chapter 8: Communities, Politics, Laws a) Plato on the Advantages and Disadvantages of Law b) Levinas and the Political Calculus Part IV: Historical-Cultural Worlds Chapter 9: The Critique of Writing a) Writing Versus Speech b) The Saying and the Said Chapter 10: The Ambiguity of the Aesthetic a) Images and Shadows b) The Irresponsibility of Art c) The Work and Tyranny Chapter 11: History and Culture a) Between Past and Future b) Levinas and the Stranger c) Philosophers and Strangers in Plato Chapter 12: Concluding Remarks on Ethics and Ambiguity a) Univocal Ethics? b) Ambiguity in de Beauvoir, Merleau-Ponty, and Levinas c) Attempting a Genealogy of Ambiguity d) Plato's Contribution e) Ethics and Ambiguity Postscript: Derrida on Hospitality