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Daniel Sibony

The Self: to Give or to Share?

How should we be with the Other? Should we give entirely of ourselves?

In this book, Daniel Sibony reviews the ethics of the French philosopher Emmanuel Levinas and his concept of the gratuitous gift of the Self. Why are Levinas' ethics, which are never actually put into practice, so highly regarded? Few thinkers have been as greatly influenced by historical upheavals - Nazism, the Shoah - as Levinas. The theme of alterity (the otherness of the Other) plays a major role in his work, as do the ideas of the German philosopher Heidegger, but, according to Daniel Sibony, the ethical question remains unanswered: How can we come out of ourselves without losing the Self in the Other, and without imprisoning the Other in the gift of Self? This raises the issue of identity: How to deal with the Other, who harasses us, but whom we cannot do without?

This is a stimulating new approach to an important twentieth-century philosopher.

Daniel Sibony is a psychoanalyst and teaches mathematics at the University of Paris-VII.