Severson Publishes Article on Emmanuel Levinas
Published: 2012-11-13

Dr. Eric Severson, Associate Professor of Philosophy, has published an article in the Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology entitled “Beyond Hermeneutics: Levinas, language, and psychology”. The article reflects on Levinas's later works, specifically in the language, and in regard to the "kinds of speech important to psychotherapy". Members of the ENC library network can access the full article through the Nease Library PsycARTICLES database.

Full Abstract (from APA PsychNET): The work of Emmanuel Levinas presents a unique challenge to psychotherapy, particularly by revisiting the phenomenon of language in such a way that all human speech is already loaded with obligation to one's neighbor. This article reflects on the nature of language in Levinas's later works, with particular regard to the kinds of speech important to psychotherapy. First by exploring the hermeneutic tradition and its approach to language and understanding, the author points to Levinas's claim that hermeneutics will not suffice to articulate responsibility to the neighbor. Speech is already, for Levinas, weighted with a primordial debt to the other. As such, the author suggests that language be considered in another register, at a level already familiar with infinite debt and obligation: prayer and liturgy. Such a suggestion is not primarily theological in nature, but relational. Ultimately pointing to a way of thinking about language in therapy that surpasses hermeneutics in the interest of a faithful response to the suffering of the other. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)