Levinas on Europe: “The Bible and the Greeks”

A lecture by Dr. Joëlle Hansel

Thu, April 28, 2011 | Union Texas Governors’ Room 3.116

4:00 PM

The life and work of Emmanuel Levinas, the world-renowned French philosopher, are situated at the crossroad of four main European cultures: Russian, Jewish, German, and French. In contrast with philosophers of the Western intellectual tradition, Levinas considered that Greece is not the cradle of European civilization—or at least not the only one. As he liked to say, “Europe is the Bible and the Greeks.” The aim of this talk is to show how the close intertwining between the two legacies of the Bible and the Greeks is indeed reflected in Levinas’ early pre-war works, which were written “in the presentiment of the Nazi horror.”


Joëlle Hansel, a former student at Ecole Normale Supérieure (Paris) and UniversitéLa Sorbonne (Ph.D.), teaches philosophy and Jewish Thought in the Department of Jewish Thought at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She is the founder of the Raissa and Emmanuel Levinas Center (Jerusalem). She has organized three international Levinas conferences at the Hebrew University: "Levinas in Jerusalem" (May 2002), "Ethics and Politics in the Philosophy of E. Levinas" (June 2003), "A Century with Levinas. Resonances of a Philosophy" (January 2006). Among her publications: Moïse Hayyim Luzzatto. Kabbale et philosophie(Editions du Cerf, 2004), Levinas. De l'Etre & agave; l'Autre, (editor, PUF, mars 2006) and recently, Levinas in Jerusalem. Philosophical Interpretations and Religious Perspectives (editor, Magnes Press, Jerusalem). Her fields of interest are the intellectual history of Judaism, French contemporary philosophy and E. Levinas'work. She is the granddaughter of Emmanuel Levinas.

Sponsored by: Schusterman Center for Jewish Studies jointly with the Center for European Studies and Department of Religious Studies

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