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Marcus, P. (2007). “You are, Therefore I am” Emmanuel Levinas and Psychoanalysis. Psychoanal. Rev., 94(4):515-527.

(2007). Psychoanalytic Review, 94(4):515-527

“You are, Therefore I am” Emmanuel Levinas and Psychoanalysis

Paul Marcus

Emmanuel Levinas (1906-1995), the French phenomenological philosopher steeped in Jewish tradition, is regarded as perhaps the greatest ethicist of our times by many philosophers. Indeed, the significance and relevance of Levinas's writings have been acknowledged and celebrated not only in philosophy, but also in literary and political theory, sociology, religion and other disciplines, especially in Europe. Despite Levinas's great importance in Europe he is hardly known, let alone read or cited, in the mainstream psychoanalytic community, except, perhaps, by a few in the Lacanian school, with occasional scattered references elsewhere (Eigen, 1993; Harasym, 1998). This situation is surprising because Levinas's writings deal with issues that are at the heart of psychoanalysis, namely, the “deep” structure of subjectivity, intersubjectivity, and human flourishing. Most importantly, the account of “ethical subjectivity” contained in his disruptive critique of the Western philosophical tradition—the tradition in which psychoanalysis is situated—not only challenges many of the assumptions that guide much of psychoanalytic theorizing and practice, but also shows how this Western tradition and, by extension, psychoanalysis, inadvertently do violence to the human self (Marcus, 2007, in press).

This volume of the Psychoanalytic Review is the first full-length journal or book to attempt to begin to fill in the gap in the mainstream psychoanalytic literature. Perhaps most importantly, this volume aims to introduce mainstream psychoanalysts to the “difficult wisdom concerned with truths that correlate to virtues” (Levinas, 1990, p. 275) that constitutes the Levinasian oeuvre.

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