Emmanuel levinas has been known to serious students of European philosophy for sixty years, ever since the publication of his influential study of Edmund Husserl, the work Jean-Paul Sartre said had introduced him to phenomenology. Some of his other writings, such as the demanding Totality and Infinity have been available in English since 1969, and there are several recent collections of scholarly essays devoted to his thought. . . .

Levinas is poised on the threshold of occupying the role that no one has really filled since the death of Martin Buber: that of the Jewish sage able to speak to the universal concerns of modern (or perhaps better, post- modern) men and women. . . .

Born in Lithuania in 1906, Levinas came to France after the First World War to study philosophy, particularly as it had been developed by Henri Bergson and...

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