The Hypocritical Imagination
Between Kant and Levinas
Routledge – 1999 – 288 pages
For philosophers such as Kant, the imagination is the starting point for all thought. For others, such as Wittgenstein, what is important is only how the word 'imagination' is used. In spite of the attention the imagination has received from major philosophers, remarkably little has been written about the radically different interpretations they have made of it.
The HypoCritical Imagination: Between Kant and Levinas is an outstanding contribution to this vaccuum. Focusing on Kant and Levinas, John Llewelyn takes us on a dazzling tour of the philosophical imagination. He shows us that despite the different treatments they accord to the imagination, there is much to be gained from comparing these two key thinkers. From Kant, Llewelyn shows how the imagination is the common root of all understanding. He contrasts this with the thought of Emmanuel Levinas, for whom the imagination plays an ambivalent role both as necessary for and a threat to recognition of the other.
John Llewelyn also introduces the importance of the work of Heidegger Schelling, Hegel, Arendt and Derrida on the imagination and what this work can tell us about the relationship between the imagination and ethics, aesthetics and literature.
The HypoCritical Imagination: Between Kant and Levinas is a brilliant reading of a neglected but important philosophical theme and is essential reading for those in contemporary philosophy, art theory and literature.
'This book collects a number of thought provoking studies on imagination and the crucial significances claimed for it since Kant.' - Tidschrift voor Filosofie
John Llewellyn is formerly Reader in Philosophy at Edinburgh University. hew is the author of the acclaimed Emmanuel Levinas: The Genealogy of Ethics, also published by Routledge.