"Failure of communication" as a surplus: Dialogue and lack of dialogue between Buber and Levinas

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

6 Scopus citations


The proximity between Martin Buber and Emmanuel Levinas which is so striking to the external observer was not always so apparent to Buber and Levinas themselves. Levinas was initially preoccupied with differentiating or separating his own position from that of Buber. But having established the points of difference, he found himself then able to reread Buber in another way. Although Levinas continued to focus on many of the same issues in his treatment of Buber, his approach - his way of relating - appeared to undergo a transformation. The present essay surveys Levinas's numerous studies of Buber, and in particular compares an essay predating Totality and Infinity with another postdating Otherwise Than Being or Beyond Essence in order to explore both the continuity and change not simply in Levinas's understanding of what Buber wrote, but also in the way in which Levinas approached Buber. The relation between Buber and Levinas has already given rise to a few studies,1 but these commentaries predate Levinas's most recent discussions of Buber and so are unable to take account of essays which, introduce a new stage in Levinas's relation with Buber. Levinas's recent essays on Buber are important not only for an understanding of the relation of these two thinkers, but also because they serve as a valuable introduction to the question of what might provisionally be called "a Levinasian hermeneutics.".

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationLevinas and Buber
Subtitle of host publicationDialogue and Difference
PublisherDuquesne University Press
Number of pages33
ISBN (Print)0820703494, 9780820703497
StatePublished - 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Arts and Humanities


Dive into the research topics of '"Failure of communication" as a surplus: Dialogue and lack of dialogue between Buber and Levinas'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this