Journal Article

Emmanuel Levinas and the Hospitality of Images

Aaron Rosen

in Literature and Theology

Volume 25, issue 4, pages 364-378
Published in print December 2011 | ISSN: 0269-1205
Published online November 2011 | e-ISSN: 1477-4623 | DOI:
Emmanuel Levinas and the Hospitality of Images

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When it comes to interfaith dialogue between the Abrahamic religions, there is a prevailing assumption that the best place to start is with Scripture, with a common emphasis on ‘the book’. In this essay, I want to suggest a different route. The visual arts, I will contend, can offer a powerful but under-appreciated resource for inter-religious dialogue, stimulating genuinely new ways of seeing the Other. I will make my case for the hospitality of images through a re-reading of the Jewish philosopher Emmanuel Levinas. While Levinas can be sharply critical of the visual arts, at the same time a strong aesthetic vein runs through his work, which has been consistently obscured or overlooked by scholars. Exploiting such visual dimensions, I will read Levinas against the grain, suggesting ways in which art might meet the stringent demands of his ethical vision, and as such offer an ideal site for interfaith dialogue.

Journal Article.  6586 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Religion and Art, Literature, and Music

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