Out from Huis Clos: Sartre, Lévinas and the debate over Jewish authenticity
Abstract:This essay addresses Emmanuel Lévinas's critique of the Sartrean idea of authentic selfhood. It begins with a discussion of Sartre's idea of 'authenticity' as developed in the philosophical treatise, L'Être et le néant, and in the analysis of anti-Semitism in Réflexions sur la question juive. Next, it provides a short excursus on Lévinas's philosophical notion that the subject is constituted in and through its relation to the Other, so as to emphasize the strong contrast between the Sartrean and Lévinasian models of the subject-other relation. Finally, it examines two short essays written by Lévinas in response to Sartre's Réflexions : first, the June, 1947 introductory remarks, 'Existentialism and Anti-Semitism', and second, the 1947 essay 'Être juif' ('Being Jewish'). The essay takes up Lévinas's critique of 'authentic' or self-constitutive selfhood and concludes that the Lévinasian subject, as constituted through alterity, is never 'authentic' in the Sartrean sense. In fact, Lévinas's philosophy would appear to offer a welcome corrective to Sartre's politically fraught choice between abjection and self-assertion: Lévinas invalidates the dream of Jewish authenticity.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: March 1, 2006
More about this publication?
- Journal of Romance Studies promotes innovative critical work in the areas of linguistics, literature, performing and visual arts, media, material culture, intellectual and cultural history, critical and cultural theory, psychoanalysis, gender studies, social sciences, and anthropology. The primary focus is on those parts of the world that speak, or have spoken, French, Italian, Spanish or Portuguese, but work on other cultures may be included. Issues cross national and disciplinary boundaries in order to stimulate new ways of thinking about cultural history and practice.
Published in Association with the Institute of Germanic & Romance Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London.
- Editorial Board
- Information for Authors
- Submit a Paper
- Subscribe to this Title
- Information for Advertisers
- Terms & Conditions
- Aims and Scope
- Recommend to your Library
- Sample Copy Request
- ingentaconnect is not responsible for the content or availability of external websites