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    Levinas and Judaism
    Levinas Studies 1 1-17. 2005.
    I would like to try to clarify one aspect of the relationship between Levinas’s philosophy — or “ethical metaphysics,” as Edith Wyschogrod has called it — and Judaism as Levinas understands it. In and of itself it is interesting to try to understand Levinas’s thinking and its relationship to his life as a Jew and to Judaism as he takes it to be. But I also have ulterior motives — that is, I have what some might think are larger fish to fry. I will begin by saying something about Hilary Putnam’s …Read more
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    The Goals and Methods of the History of Philosophy
    Review of Metaphysics 40 (4). 1987.
    LIKE POETS, painters, sculptors, and composers, philosophers occupy a present burgeoning with the past. From Plato to Rawls, philosophical thinking is explicitly or implicitly the outcome of encounters with imposing predecessors. The history of philosophy is, to use an expression that Gombrich applies to the history of art, a history of style, a tradition of texts that repeat, revise, and reject the conceptual tropes and argumentative patterns of precedent texts.
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    The Second Person in Fichte and Levinas
    with Owen Ware
    Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal 41 (2): 1-20. 2020.
    Levinas never engaged closely with Fichte’s work, but there are two places in the chapter “Substitution,” in Otherwise than Being (1974), where he mentions Fichte by name. The point that Levinas underscores in both of these passages is that the other’s encounter with the subject is not the outcome of the subject’s freedom; it is not posited by the subject, as Fichte has it, but is prior to any free activity. The aim of this paper is to deepen the comparison between Levinas and Fichte, giving spe…Read more
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    Discovering Levinas
    Cambridge University Press. 2007.
    In Discovering Levinas, Michael L. Morgan shows how this thinker faces in novel and provocative ways central philosophical problems of twentieth-century philosophy and religious thought. He tackles this task by placing Levinas in conversation with philosophers such as Donald Davidson, Stanley Cavell, John McDowell, Onora O'Neill, Charles Taylor, and Cora Diamond. He also seeks to understand Levinas within philosophical, religious, and political developments in the history of twentieth-century in…Read more
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    Review of Charles Taylor, A Secular Age (review)
    Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2008 (8). 2008.
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    Heidegger's Crisis: Philosophy and Politics in Nazi Germany
    Review of Metaphysics 48 (4): 931-933. 1995.
    This picture of philosophy and politics harbors as much caricature as accuracy. Even in Plato, who is often cited as its earliest author, the contrast occurs less sharply. Arguably Plato never saw philosophy as wholly transcendent, nor politics as wholly empirical, even in the Republic. But the Western tradition has rarely appreciated the nuance in Plato. The radical contrast has a long and influential history with at least one useful result, that the question of the relationship between philoso…Read more
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    Meaning and Context. Quentin Skinner and his Critics
    Review of Metaphysics 43 (2): 425-426. 1989.
    Both as historian and as theoretician, Quentin Skinner has contributed brilliantly to our understanding of the tradition of political thinking and to the renewed interest in a genuinely historical reading of the texts of that tradition. Until now, however, Skinner's methodological articles have not been conveniently available under one cover. James Tully's excellent volume remedies that deficiency. Tully brings together five of Skinner's most important writings on interpretation, his own fine in…Read more
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    Lévinas's Ethical Politics
    Indiana University Press. 2016.
    Emmanuel Levinas conceives of our lives as fundamentally interpersonal and ethical, claiming that our responsibilities to one another should shape all of our actions. While many scholars believe that Levinas failed to develop a robust view of political ethics, Michael L. Morgan argues against understandings of Levinas’s thought that find him politically wanting or even antipolitical. Morgan examines Levinas’s ethical critique of the political as well as his Jewish writings—including those on Zio…Read more
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    Authorship and the History of Philosophy
    Review of Metaphysics 42 (2). 1988.
    There is a type of history of philosophy that involves both philosophical analysis and historical understanding. in this paper i try to show how this enterprise attempts to construct a surrogate author for the texts under investigation. in order to clarify this model of interpretation, i compare the notion of surrogate author with collingwood's notion of reenactment and with nehamas's criticism of foucault's conception of authorship. i also discuss the roles of history and philosophy both as par…Read more
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    System and Revelation: The Philosophy of Franz Rosenzweig
    Review of Metaphysics 46 (3): 635-636. 1993.
    Jewish destiny works itself out in the nexus between two poles: between temporal, finite human experience and the eternity of divine governance and orientation. At times the two poles seem close; an intimacy with God seems accessible and worthy of human aspiration. At other times, however, the poles diverge, and God seems remote, human affairs seem a vale of tears, the domain of human responsibility alone. Like human existence, Judaism is embedded in history and yet cleaves to transcendence, and…Read more
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    The Cambridge Companion to Modern Jewish Philosophy (edited book)
    with Peter Eli Gordon
    Cambrige University Press. 2007.
    Modern Jewish philosophy emerged in the seventeenth century, with the impact of the new science and modern philosophy on thinkers who were reflecting upon the nature of Judaism and Jewish life. This collection of new essays examines the work of several of the most important of these figures, from the seventeenth to the late-twentieth centuries, and addresses themes central to the tradition of modern Jewish philosophy: language and revelation, autonomy and authority, the problem of evil, messiani…Read more
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    Interpreting the World Kant's Philosophy of History and Politics
    Review of Metaphysics 42 (2): 376-378. 1988.
    Against the background of the current interest in hermeneutics and interpretation theory, the title of Booth's book might lead one to expect a post-Nietzschean reading of Kant's philosophy of history and politics. But the actual source of the book's title is Marx's final thesis on Feuerbach. Booth gives us a sceptical, realistic Kant who faces the shortcomings of reason and the challenges of the natural world not by trying to change the world but rather by seeking interpretations of it that enab…Read more
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    Review of Metaphysics 43 (3): 652-654. 1990.
    This brief volume, one of the Past Masters series, is a fascinating introduction to the full range of Thomas Hobbes's philosophy. The book has three parts. In the first Tuck describes Hobbes's life and gives a "brief, synoptic view of Hobbes's philosophy" as it develops in the context of sixteenth-century history and thought. The second part discusses Hobbes's arguments on science, ethics, politics, and religion. Finally, Tuck surveys a variety of styles of Hobbes interpretation, from Hobbes's c…Read more
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    Thomas Hobbes and Political Theory
    Review of Metaphysics 44 (3): 628-630. 1991.
    This interesting set of essays situates Hobbes's writings in the political and religious debates of seventeenth-century England. The essays' strengths lie in their historical and political insights. The authors of the papers engage in detailed examination of Hobbes and English history in order to shed light on several slighted dimensions of Hobbes's works. The cases for these interpretations are mounted with sensitivity and skill. The upshot is a stimulating book for philosophers that raises mor…Read more
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    The Cambridge Introduction to Emmanuel Levinas
    Cambridge University Press. 2011.
    This book provides a clear and helpful overview of the thought of Emmanuel Levinas, one of the most significant and interesting philosophers of the late twentieth century. Michael L. Morgan presents an overall interpretation of Levinas' central principle that human existence is fundamentally ethical and that its ethical character is grounded in our face-to-face relationships. He explores the religious, cultural and political implications of this insight for modern Western culture and how it rela…Read more
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    "MIchael Morgan has served up an intellectual treat. These subtle and carefully reasoned essays explore the dilemmas of the post-modern Jew who would take history seriously without losing the commanding presence Israel heard at Sinai.... It is a pleasure to be nourished by a fresh mind exploring the tension between reason and revelation, history and faith."—Rabbi Samuel Karff "This is without doubt one of the most significant works in modern Jewish thought and a must for a thoughtful student of …Read more
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    Hellenistic Philosophy of Mind
    Review of Metaphysics 48 (3): 636-638. 1995.
    The philosophy of mind is an especially flourishing plot of philosophical terrain these days. In part this activity derives from the quality of the work and in part from the topic's location, at the intersection of science--computer science, mathematics, biology, and cognitive psychology--and metaphysics and epistemology, even ethics. If recent developments date from Ryle and his iconoclasm, the modern study of mind has an older provenance in the writings of Descartes, Hobbes, Spinoza, Locke, Hu…Read more
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    Idealization and modelling
    Journal of Economic Methodology 3 (1): 131-138. 1996.
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    Confronting the challenges of the 20th century, from modernity and the Great War to the Holocaust and postmodern culture, Jewish thinkers have wrestled with such fundamental issues as redemption and revelation, eternity and history, messianism and politics. From the turn of the century through the 1920s, European Jewish intellectuals confronted alienation and the challenges of modernity by seeking secure grounds for a meaningful life. After the Holocaust and the fall of Nazism, the rich results …Read more