* North American Levinas Society

June 4, 2007

Conference brings Levinas scholars to Purdue

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The public is invited to attend the second annual meeting of the North American Levinas Society at Purdue University.

The conference, Levinas and Community, is June 10-12. Conference sessions are free and open to the public. Information about session times and meeting rooms is available at

The society was founded in October 2005 by Purdue graduate students and faculty in the Department of English and the philosophy and literature doctoral program, said Sandor Goodhart, associate professor of English.

Emmanuel Levinas was a 20th century French-speaking Lithuanian Jewish philosopher, writer and educator.

"Levinas was a leading 20th century thinker whose primary interest was in highlighting the priority of our ethical responsibility for the other individual over all other philosophic and religious concerns," Goodhart said. "This priority had the status for him of a commandment and he derived it from the Hebrew Bible. Along with Martin Buber and Franz Rosenzweig, Levinas is one of the three most important ethical thinkers of his era."

The program will feature, in addition to dozens of talks, six plenary sessions, four of which will honor members of the Levinas family (Simone, George, David and Joelle Hansel). Simone Levinas Hansel, Levinas' daughter, will speak at a dinner on Monday (June 11) about her father and her childhood. George Hansel, a highly accomplished mathematician and Talmud scholar, will speak on Tuesday (June 12) about the Biblical "lex talionis," the famous law of an "eye for an eye." David Hansel, Levinas' grandson, will show a film on Tuesday (June 12) in which Levinas speaks for himself about his own philosophy. And Joelle Hansel will open the conference on Sunday (June 10) with a talk about Levinas' early pre-war days as a student of philosophy in France and Germany.

The plenary session at 5:30-7 p.m. on Sunday (June 10) in the Purdue Memorial Union, West Faculty Lounge, will highlight work by scholars William Paul Simmons from Arizona State University and Oona Eisenstadt from Pomona College.

Psychologist George Kunz from Seattle University will present "Therapy: Promise Without Certainty. Levinas Inspired Psychology for the Other," at noon Monday (June 11) in the Purdue Memorial Union, West Faculty Lounge. 

The conference will bring more than 100 scholars from a variety of disciplines and geographic locations together to consider the relevance of Levinasian ethical thinking to social and political theory, literary studies, religion, gender studies, psychology, and philosophy.

Sources: Sandor Goodhart, (765) 430-5024,

Michael R. Paradiso-Michau, graduate student, (765) 404-0147,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

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