Levinas and the Trauma of Responsibility

Levinas and the Trauma of Responsibility

The Ethical Significance of Time
Cynthia D. Coe
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 01/23/2018
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 978-0-253-03196-9
Bookmark and Share

Other formats available:

Buy from Amazon


Levinas's account of responsibility challenges dominant notions of time, autonomy, and subjectivity according to Cynthia D. Coe. Employing the concept of trauma in Levinas's late writings, Coe draws together his understanding of time and his claim that responsibility is an obligation to the other that cannot be anticipated or warded off. Tracing the broad significance of these ideas, Coe shows how Levinas revises our notions of moral agency, knowledge, and embodiment. Her focus on time brings a new interpretive lens to Levinas's work and reflects on a wider discussion of the fragmentation of human experience as an ethical subject. Coe's understanding of trauma and time offers a new appreciation of how Levinas can inform debates about gender, race, mortality, and animality.

Author Bio

Cynthia D. Coe is Professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Central Washington University. She is author (with Matthew C. Altman) of The Fractured Self in Freud and German Philosophy.


“Cynthia D. Coe extends Levinas's analysis of vulnerability, which he understands in highly embodied terms, into an exploration of the implications that such embodied responsibility has for our ways of thinking about mortality, gender, race, and animality. Coe never loses the subtlety and complexity of the notions involved, a pleasure to read.”
 — Silvia Benso, editor of Levinas and the Ancients

“This book demonstrates how important time is for Levinas’s work by showing that many of his seemingly non-temporal concepts are caught up in how we live time. The claim that time has a traumatic ethical significance is integral to Levinas’s conception of subjectivity, and Cynthia D. Coe, putting Levinas in dialogue with many of his interlocutors, deftly shows how this is Levinas’s distinctive contribution to philosophy--as well as his challenge to the Western philosophical tradition.”
 — Jill Stauffer, author of Ethical Loneliness: The Injustice of Not Being Heard

“Cynthia D. Coe's Levinas and the Trauma of Responsibility enriches our understanding of the philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas without losing sight of the ethical demands that that philosophy makes on us. It is a remarkable accomplishment for which all readers of Levinas should be grateful.”
 — Robert Bernasconi, author of The Provocation of Levinas

“The book is straightforward and trustworthy. It does not engage in obscurantism or speak overmuch Levinasese; it does not misrepresent Levinas's ideas; and it engages with secondary sources extensively and generously. ”
 — Reading Religion

“Cynthia D. Coe's book is a thoughtful, well-researched, and accessible contribution to the English-language scholarship on Emmanuel Levinas's philosophy.”
 — Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

Customer Reviews

There are currently no reviews
Write a review on this title.

Table of Contents

1. Deformalizing Time
2. The Traumatic Impact of Deformalized Time
3. The Method of An-Archeology
4. Between Theodicy and Despair
5. The Sobering Up of Oedipus
6. Anxieties of Incarnation
7. Rethinking Death on the Basis of Time
8. Animals and Creatures
Conclusion: Inheriting the Thought of Diachrony