Emmanuel Levinas in Jerusalem:

Philosophical Interpretations and Religious Perspectives.


The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

20-23 May 2002


Location: Maison de France (Bet Tsarfat), The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Givat Ram



Organizing committee :


Dr. Ami Bouganim, Alliance Israelite Universelle, Paris.

Prof. Richard A. Cohen, University of North Carolina at Charlotte and Levinas Center.

Dr. Joelle Hansel, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Coordinator

Prof. Shalom Rosenberg, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.


Scientific Committee:


Jeffrey A. Barash (Université de Picardie, France), Zev Harvey (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem), Rivka Horwitz (Ben Gurion University, Beersheva), Ephraïm Meir (Bar Ilan University, Ramat Gan), Aviezer Ravitzky (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem).


Supporting Institutions:


The Hebrew University of Jerusalem (The International Scientific Conference Committee, Institute of Jewish Studies, Centre Desmarais), Anonymous donor, Institut Français (Ambassade de France, Tel Aviv), Ministère de la recherche (Paris), Fonds Social Juif Unifié (Paris), Centre de Recherche Français de Jérusalem (CNRS), Fondation Alain de Rothschild (Paris), Alliance Israelite Universelle (Paris).


During the past decades Emmanuel Levinas (1905-1995) has gained international recognition as one of the outstanding twentieth century thinkers in the areas of philosophy and Jewish thought. As attested by the large number of publications and conferences that have been devoted to his work, his ethical metaphysics and Talmudic insights have had an important influence on intellectuals throughout the world. Although the reception of Levinas' work in Israel and its translation into Hebrew are relatively recent, interest in his ideas has steadily grown both in academic circles and among the general public.


In the address he gave at the Residence of the President of State of Israel in Jerusalem in 1976, Levinas attributed particular significance to the State of Israelfor its role in making possible the development of "a new culture". To his mind this meant the formulation in universal terms of principles originating in Biblical and Talmudic sources, independent  of the heritage bequeathed by Greek antiquity. In his view Israeli places of learning and especially Israeli universities assume a decisive role in calling forth "a new life", at once rooted in Jewish sources and open to the imperatives of modern life.    


In 1982-1983, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem invited Levinas to be a visiting professor in the Department of Jewish Thought. Over the past years, a number of courses and seminars at the Hebrew University have been devoted to various aspects of his work. In line with this contribution to understanding Levinas, The Hebrew University is organizing the first international conference on Emmanuel Levinas ever held in Israel. This conference will take place on May 20-23, 2002. International specialists in Levinas studies will deal with central issues raised by his work, for example: Levinas' place in the history of philosophy; his encounters with contemporary philosophers (Husserl and Heidegger; Cohen, Rosenzweig and Buber; Bergson and Sartre); his ethical metaphysics; his political thought; his conception of history; his reaction to the Shoah; his view of  Zionism and the State of Israel; his Talmudic hermeneutics.


Confirmed  Invited Participants


Annette Aronowicz, Franklin and Marshall College, Lancaster, USA.

Peter Atterton, University of  San Diego, USA.

David Banon, Université Marc Bloch, Strasbourg, France ; Université de Lausanne, Switzerland.

Jeffrey A. Barash, Université de Picardie, France.

Hanoch Ben-Pazi, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat Gan, Israel.

Ami Bouganim, Alliance Israelite Universelle, Paris, France.

Dominique Bourel, CRFJ, Jerusalem, Israel.

Theodor de Boer, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Richard A. Cohen  University of North Carolina, Charlotte, USA.

Francois Coppens,  Facultés Universitaires Saint Louis, Brussels, Belgium.

Shalem Coulibaly, Tel Aviv University, Israel.

Simon Critchley, University of Essex, UK.

Igor Dukhan, Belarusian State University, Minsk, Belarus.

Paul Elbhar, Ben Gurion University, Beersheva, Israel.

Daniel Epstein, Matan Institute, Jerusalem, Israel.

Michael Fagenblat, Mandel School for Social and Educational Leadership, Jerusalem, Israel.

Elisabeth Goldwin, Oranim College and Haifa University, Israel.

Benjamin Gross, Bar Ilan University, Ramat Gan, Israel.

Joelle Hansel, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel.

Warren Zev Harvey, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel.

Rivka Horwitz, Ben Gurion University, Beersheva,  Israel.

Richard Kearney , Boston College, USA and University College, Dublin, Ireland.

Marie-Anne Lescourret, Université Marc Bloch, Strasbourg, France.

Zeev Levy, Haifa University, Israel.

Bracha Lichtenberg-Ettinger, Leeds University, U.K.

Salomon Malka, journalist and writer, Paris, France.

Jens Mattern, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel.

Ephraim Meir, Bar Ilan University, Ramat Gan, Israel.

Francoise Mies, FNRS, Facultes Universitaires Notre  Dame de la Paix, Namur, Belgium.

Gabriel Motzkin, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Dean of the faculty of Humanities, Israel.

Enzo Neppi, Université de Grenoble, France.

Aviezer Ravitzky, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel.

Robert Redeker, Les Temps Modernes, Paris, France.

Jean-Francois Rey, IUFM, Lille, France.

Edouard Robberechts, Université d’Aix-Marseille, France.

Shalom Rosenberg, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel.

Michael Roubach, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel.

Jean-Michel Salanskis, Université Paris X-Nanterre, France.

Michael Smith, Berry College, Mount Berry, USA.

Richard Sugarman, University of Vermont, USA.

Xavier Tilliette, Institut Catholique, Paris ; Université Grégorienne, Rome.

Shmuel Wygoda, The  Hebrew University of Jerusalem and The Herzog College, Alon Shevut, Israel.

Edith Wyschogrod, Rice University, USA.






General Information


All the conference sessions will be held in the auditorium of  Maison de France on the Edmond Safra campus of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem at Givat Ram.


The special event, Wednesday May, 22 in the evening, will be held in the Independence-Mexico Auditorium on the campus of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem at Mount Scopus.


The official languages of the conference are English, French and Hebrew. Talks in French will also be translated into Hebrew and vice versa.


The conference is also advertised on the Emmanuel Levinas web page : http://home.pacbell.net/atterton/levinas


For any questions regarding the conference: levinasconf@walla.co.il








Preliminary program (updated April 19, 2002)




Monday  May 20, 2002


8:00-9:00 :   Registration


9:00-10:00 : Greetings and Opening lecture


G. Motzkin : Dean of the faculty of humanities. (E)*


X. Tilliette : Levinas and the Problem of Subjectivity. (F)


10:00-11:45 : Phenomenology 


S. Critchley : 'Leaving the Climate of Heidegger’s Thinking’ (E)

J.M . Salanskis:The Theoretical at Levinas’ Help. (F)


11:15-11:45 : Coffee break


11:45-13:00 :  Totality and Infinity


E. Robberechts : The Idea of Creation in Totality and Infinity.(F)

E . Meir :   Totality and Infinity vs. Being and Time. (E)


13:00-14:30 : Lunch


14:30-15:45 : Levinas and French Philosophy


J. Barash : Aperception and Intersubjectivity in Merleau-Ponty and Levinas. (E)

J. Hansel : « Hic et nunc »: Instant, Place and Subjectivity in  E. Levinas’ First Works. (F)


15:45:16:15 : Coffee break


16:15-17:30 : Levinas, Literature and Art


E. Neppi : Levinas and Modernist Philosophies of Evasion: Baudelaire, Rimbaud and

                 Some Others. (F)

I. Dukhan : Art, Being, Time: Emmanuel Levinas’ Criticism of Art (E).


18:00 -20:30 : Exhibition of photographies of Levinas by B. Lichtenberg-Ettinger (E)




*(E, H, F) In English, Hebrew, French.
Tuesday May 21, 2002


9:00-9:45 : Levinas on Language


E. Wyschogrod : Levinas’s Philosophy of Language. (E)


9 :45-11 :00 : Time and the Other I


R. Sugerman : The Break up of Totality and the Promise of Time in the Thought of E . Levinas. (E)

M. Roubach : Time and the Primacy of Ethics. (E)


11:00-11:30 : Coffee Break


11:30-12:45 : Time and the Other II


Z. Levy : Levinas’ Philosophical Concept and Attitude to Death. (E)

J. Mattern : Selfhood as Intensity of Memory: Plato and Levinas and the Experience of Existential Dualism. (E)


12:45-14:15 : Lunch


14:15-15:30 : Alterity I


M-A Lescourret : After you: Ethical Challenges of a Life. (E)

R. Kearney : Levinas and the Absolute Other. (E)


15:30-16:00 : Coffee break


16:00-17:15 : The Feminine


H. Ben Pazi : Teaching as the Internalization of Aspects of the Female Experience in Levinas’s Thought (E).

B. Lichtenberg-Ettinger : "The Feminine is that Incredible, Unheard of Thing in the Human" (H).



19 :00  Banquet


Wednesday May 22, 2002


8:30-10:15 : Transcendance and Intelligibility


A. Bouganim: The Theology of the Name (F).

T. de Boer : Levinas and Negative Theology  (E).

M. Smith :   Levinas’ Concept of Religion (E).


10:15-10:45 : Coffee Break


10:45-12:00: Alterity II


R. Cohen : The Humanism of Levinas: the Cassirer-Heidegger Debate. (E)

S. Coulibaly : Alterity and Donation (F).


12:00 -13:30 : Lunch


13:30-14:45 : Ethics and Politics I


J.F. Rey : What should I do with Justice ? Justice and Politics in the Philosophy of E. Levinas. (F)

F. Mies :  Levinas and Zionism. (F)


14:45-16:00 : Ethics and Politics II


P. Atterton : Levinas and the Third Party. (E)

F. Coppens : Political Reason and Prophetism : How is the Other Ordered to Me ? (E)


16:00-16:30 : Coffee break


16:30-17:45 : Levinas, Buber and  Rosenzweig.


R. Horwitz : The Method of Interpretating Jewish Sources in Levinas and Rosenzweig. (E)

D. Bourel : “The Other is Poor and Destituted” : Buber and Levinas. (F)


20 :30-23:00 : Special evening: Levinas the man.  Movie prepared at the Occasion of Levinas’ Eighty Birthday.


G. Hansel: Emmanuel Levinas, 1905-1995. (H)

S. Rosenberg: Levinas and Shushani. (H)

S. Malka: Introduction to the movie. (F)

Emmanuel Levinas : «  Nous te rendons grâce de te rendre grâce » (movie, French, Hebrew translation)




Thursday May 23, 2002


8:30-9:45: Talmudic Readings and Hermeneutics I


D. Epstein: The Part of Shadow : Inverted Shadows of Judaism and Phenomenology in Levinas’ Work. (F)

A. Aronowicz: Jews, Judaism, and the State. A reading of Judaism and Revolution. (E)


9:45-10:15 :  Coffee break


10:15-12:15 : Talmudic Readings and Hermeneutics II


E. Goldwin : Levinas as a Student of the Torah. (H)              

S. Wygoda : The Role of Halakha in the Philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas. (H)                  

B. Gross: Language and Religious Discourse in the Work of Emmanuel Levinas.


12:15-13:30 : Lunch


13:30-15:30: Levinas and Israeli Contemporary Thought


D. Banon: Between Emmanuel Levinas and Yeshayahu Leibowitz. (H)

P. Elbhar: The End of Theodicy: Levinas and Leibowitz facing History. (H)

M. Fagenblat: Ethics and idolatry: Levinas and Leibowitz. (E)


15:30-16:00 : Coffee break


16:00-17:15 :  Levinas and Jewish Spirituality


S. Malka: Levinas and Israel Salanter. (F)

Z. Harvey: Levinas and the Vocation of Jewish Philosophy. (H)