Professor Richard Cohen Wins Prestigious NEH Award!

2019 levinas .

Participants of the 7th Annual Levinas Philosophy Summer Seminar: "Irresponsibility and Politics" - July 15-19, 2019 - New York City

The Department of Jewish Thought is proud to announce the National Endowment for the Humanities has awarded Professor Richard A. Cohen a grant to direct a one-week seminar to be held in Augusts 2020 on the topic “Emmanuel Levinas: Ethics of Democracy,” at the University at Buffalo. 

The award is one of only three such grants given nationwide by the NEH for 2020.  NEH Seminars for University and College Teachers provide funding – travel expenses and stipends - to enable sixteen American scholars to join together at an academic venue for one week to critically discuss selected topics.  The Seminar at UB on “Ethics of Democracy” will be guided by the thought and writings of Emmanuel Levinas (1906-1995), a Jewish-Lithuanian-French thinker who created one of the most compelling philosophical accounts of ethics in the 20th century.  His many writings, originally published in France, have been translated into many languages around the world, including English.  

Professor Cohen has translated four of Levinas’s books into English, and has authored four of his own books on various topics in Levinas’s thought, the most recent a critical contrast of Levinas and Spinoza: Out of Control: Confrontations between Spinoza and Levinas (2016).  Guided by Levinas’s thought, Professor Cohen’s seminar will examine the essential role of ethics – “good and evil,” “right and wrong” - in modern democratic governance, both in theory and practice. 

The Seminar is co-directed by Professor Jim McLachlan, Western Carolina University, and co-organized by Professor Jolanta Saldukaityte, Vilnius Gediminas Technical University.  The 2020 Seminar at UB will be the eighth one-week summer seminar on Levinas directed by Professor Cohen, starting in 2013, held in Berkeley, Buffalo, New York, Paris, Rome and Vilnius, and the second held in Buffalo supported by a National Endowment of Humanities grant.