John Llewelyn

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John Llewelyn (born 1928) is a Welsh-born British philosopher whose extensive body of work, published over a period of more than forty years, spans the divide between Analytical and Continental schools of contemporary thought.[1] He has conjoined the rigorous approach to matters of meaning and logic typical of the former and the depth and range of reference typical of the latter in a constructive and critical engagement with the work of Jacques Derrida and Emmanuel Levinas.

Education and career[edit]

Llewelyn was born in Rogerstone, near Newport, South Wales and educated at Rogerstone Elementary School and Bassaleg Grammar School. After taking a degree in French at Aberystwyth University he went on to take an Honours degree in philosophy at Edinburgh University and pursue postgraduate studies in philosophy at Oxford. He has held teaching posts at the University of New England, as Reader in Philosophy at Edinburgh University and as Visiting Professor of Philosophy at the University of Memphis and Loyola University Chicago.


A collegiate and enduring friendship with Derrida was established at their first meeting at the 1972 Cerisy-la-Salle décade on Nietzsche, an encounter that would lead to Llewelyn becoming one of the first Anglophone philosophers to engage constructively with Derrida's thought. Llewelyn's 1986 Derrida on the Threshold of Sense contributed to a marked shift in the Anglo-American response to Derrida's work, up until then largely the province of literary and cultural theory.[2]

In 1995 Llewelyn published the first systematic exposition and critical evaluation of the work of Emmanuel Levinas to appear in the English language. The summary of the philosophical doctrines Levinas interrogates, presented in the Introduction to that work (1995: 1–4) – Plato, Aristotle, Plotinus, Hobbes, Descartes, Spinoza, Kant, Hegel, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Bergson, Husserl, Heidegger– is itself indicative of the depth of scholarship and range of reference Llewelyn marshals throughout his own later work which also has additional important points of reference in the work of Wittgenstein, Saussure, Peirce, J.L. Austin and Duns Scotus and a range of literary figures, notably Emily Dickinson, Wordsworth, Gerard Manley Hopkins and Rilke.

Taking his point of departure from Derrida's last seminars on the animal and moving beyond Levinas's ethics of the Other,[3] Llewelyn has elaborated a “metaphysics of singular responsibility” (1991: 172) which effects a deconstruction of the boundaries between the human and the non-human and, in challenging the anthropocentric bias of Levinas’s ethics, inaugurates a “widening of our conception of the ethical and the political toward the ecological”, a “widening of the constituency of the other to whom I owe responsibility” (2012a: 1, 288). In conjunction with this undertaking Llewelyn develops a radicalised and enlarged concept of imagination [4] as the “chief religious faculty”, wherein religion is reconceptualised as, per se, the relation to the world as other and as such “is not dependent on, though not incompatible with, institutionalised religion or a certain traditional divinity” (2012b: 314; 2012a, 2009).

Books authored[edit]

  • 2015 Gerard Manley Hopkins and the Spell of John Duns Scotus, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press
  • 2012a The Rigor of a Certain Inhumanity: Toward a Wider Suffrage, Bloomington: Indiana University Press
  • 2012b Departing from Logic, Returning to Wales, Talybont: Y Lolfa
  • 2009 Margins of Religion: Between Kierkegaard and Derrida, Bloomington: Indiana University Press
  • 2004 Seeing Through God: A Geophenomenology, Bloomington: Indiana University Press
  • 2002 Appositions – of Jacques Derrida and Emmanuel Levinas, Bloomington: Indiana University Press
  • 2000 The HypoCritical Imagination: Between Kant and Levinas, London: Routledge
  • 1995 Emmanuel Levinas: The Genealogy of Ethics, London: Routledge
  • 1991 The Middle Voice of Ecological Conscience: A Chiasmic Reading of Responsibility in the Neighbourhood of Levinas, Heidegger and Others, London: Macmillan
  • 1986 Derrida on the Threshold of Sense, London: Macmillan
  • 1985 Beyond Metaphysics? The Hermeneutic Circle in Contemporary Continental Philosophy, London: Macmillan

Selected Articles and Papers[edit]

2010, “Where to cut: Boucherie and Delikatessen,” Research in Phenomenology, vol. 40, no. 2, The Non-human Animal, Leiden, Brill, 161–187

2010. “Pursuing Levinas and Ferry toward a Newer and More Democratic Ecological Order,” in Peter Atterton and Matthew Calarco, eds, Radicalizing Levinas, Albany: State University of New York Press, 95–111.

2010. “Clarification of Terms (Some Specious Readings of the Origin of Species),” in J. F. Derry, Darwin in Scotland: Edinburgh, Evolution and Enlightenment, Whittles, Dunbeath, 138–144..

2009. “Approaches to (Quasi) Theology Via Appresentation”, Research in Phenomenology, vol. 39, no. 2, Engaging the Religious, Leiden, Brill, 224–247.

2009. “Whot or What or Whot?” J. Aaron Simmons and David Wood, eds, A Conversation Between Neighbours: Emmanuel Levinas and Søren Kierkegaard, Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 69–81.

2009. “Suffering Redeemed and Irredeemable, Bettina Bergo and Jill Stauffer, eds, After the Death of a Certain God, New York, Columbia University Press, 185–198.

2007. “Ecosophy, Sophophily and Philotheria,” Leemon McHenry and Bazile Pierfrancesco, eds, Consciousness, Reality and Value: Philosophical Essays in Honour of T. L. S. Sprigge Frankfurt/Lancaster: Ontos Verlag, 259–273.

2006. “Oversights,” Research in Phenomenology, Jacques Derrida commemorative volume, Leiden, Brill, 63–96

2005. “Rester (Af og fra Fragmenter af Kierkegaard I Glas)”, Per Krogh Hansen and Roy Sellars, eds, Kritik og Kulturanalyse 99, vol. 33, nr 1, 107–131.

2005. “Die Ursprünge der Negation,” Thomas Bedorf and Andreas Cremonini, eds, Verfehlte Begegnung: Levinas und Sartre als philosophische Zeitgenossen, Munich, Wilhelm Fink Verlag, 61–81.

2005. “Imagination as a Connecting Middle in Schelling’s Reconstruction of Kant”, in George MacDonald Ross, ed., Kant and His Influence, New York, Continuum, 170–201. New ed. of 1990.

2004. "Le pas du repas," Marie-Louise Mallet and Ginette Michaud, eds, Jacques Derrida, Paris, L'Herne, 96–101.

2003. "On the Borderline of Madness," in Elsebet Jegstrup, ed., The New Kierkegaard, Albany, SUNY.

2003. "Stay!" in Research in Phenomenology, XXXIII, 97–118.

2003. "Close Reading, Distant Reading , and the Experience of Language," in Ananta Sukla, ed., Art and Experience, Westport, Praeger, 20–41.

2003. "Prolegomena to any Future Phenomenological Ecology," in Charles S. Brown and Ted Toadvine, eds. Eco-Phenomenology: Back to the Earth Itself, 51–72.

2002. "Reading out of Cont-ex-t (Book of Ours: Book of Theirs)," in David Connearn, ed., Hours, Glasgow, WAX366, 7.1–1.10.

2002. "Levinas and Language," in Simon Critchley and Robert Bernasconi, eds, The Cambridge Companion to Levinas, Cambridge University Press, 119–138

2001. "A Footnote in the History of Фύσις ," in Research in Phenomenology, XXXI, 39–61.

2001. "What is Orientation in Thinking. Facing the Facts," in Melvyn New, ed., In Proximity: Emmanuel Levinas and the 18th Century, Texas Tech University Press, 69–90.

2001. “Le respect comme affectivité effective”, in Alain David, ed., Michel Henry: L’épreuve de la vie, Paris, La Nuit Surveillée, 453–465.

2001.“Representation in Language”, in Ananta Sukla, ed., Art and Representation, Westport, Praeger, 29–59.

2000. “The Impossibility of Levinas’s Death”, in Mark Robson, Mark Smith and Joanne Morra, eds, Death and Its Concepts, Manchester University Press, 22–39.

1998. “sELection”, Alan Milchman and Alan Rosenberg, eds, Postmodernism and the Holocaust, Amsterdam and Atlanta, Rodopi, 189–204.

1998. “Approaches to Semioethics”, Hugh Silverman, ed., Cultural Semiosis: Tracing the Signifier, New York, Routledge, 196–218.

1998. “In the Name of Philosophy”, Research in Phenomenology, XXVII, 37–54.

1998, ?Ateoloji?, trans. Zeynep Direk, felsefelogos, Balut Yay nlar, 3, 67–78.

1997. “Levinas’s Critical and Hypocritical Diction”, Philosophy Today, 41, Supp. vol., Remembrance and Responsibility, 29–40.

1995. “Imadgination”, Kenneth Maly, ed., The Path of Archaic Thinking: Unfolding the Work of John Sallis, Albany, SUNY, 75–88.

1995. “Amen”, Adriaan Peperzak, ed., Ethics as First Philosophy: The Significance of Emmanuel Levinas for Philosophy, Literature and Religion, New York, Routledge, pp. 199–209.

1995. “Arendt’s Judgement”, Proceedings of the Eighth International Kant Congress, vol. 1, pt 1, Milwaukee, Marquette University Press, 1105–1115.

1994. “En ce moment même...une répétition qui n’en est pas une”, in Le passage des frontières. Autour du travail de Jacques Derrida, Paris, Galilée, 245-48.

1992. “Responsibility and Indecidability”, David Wood, ed., Derrida: A Critical Reader, Oxford, Blackwell, 72–96.

1991. “Am I Obsessed by Bobby? (Humanism of the Other Animal)”, Robert Bernasconi and Simon Critchley, eds, Re-Reading Levinas, Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 234-45.

1990. “Derrida, Mallarmé and Anatole”, David Wood, ed., Philosophers’ Poets, London, Routledge, 93–110.

1990. “Imagination as a Connecting Middle in Schelling’s Reconstruction of Kant”, George MacDonald Ross and Tony McWalter, eds, Kant and his Influence, Bristol, Thoemmes, 170–201.

1990. “The Deconstruction of Time”, Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology, 21, 284–89.

1989. “Ontological Responsibility and the Poetics of Nature”, Research in Phenomenology, XIX, 3–26.

1988. “Glasnostalgia”, Bulletin of the Hegel Society of Great Britain, 18, 33–42.

1988. “On the Saying that Philosophy begins in thaumazein”, Andrew Benjamin, ed., Post-Structuralist Classics, London, Routledge, 173-91.

1988. “The Origin and End of Philosophy”, Hugh J. Silverman, ed., Philosophy and Non-Philosophy since Merleau-Ponty, New York, Routledge, 191–210.

1988. “Thresholds”, David Wood and Robert Bernasconi, eds, Derrida and Différance, Evanston, Northwestern University Press, 51–62.

1988. “Levinas, Derrida and Others vis-à-vis”, Robert Bernasconi and David Wood, ed., The Provocation of Levinas: Rethinking the Other, London and New York, Routledge, 136-55.

1988. “Poetics and Hermeneutics”, Textual Practice, 1, 238–41.

1987. “Value, Authenticity and the Death of God”, G. Parkinson, ed., An Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, London, Routledge, 641-64.

1987. “Belongings”, Research in Phenomenology, XVII, 117–136.

1987. “A Point of Almost Absolute Proximity to Hegel”, John Sallis, ed., Deconstruction and Philosophy: The Texts of Jacques Derrida, Chicago, The University of Chicago Press, 87–95.

1987. “Kantian Antinomy and Hegelian Dialectic”, Stephen Priest, ed., Hegel’s Critique of Kant, Oxford, Clarendon, 87–101.

1987. “Jewgreek or Greekjew”, J. Sallis, M. Moneta, J. Taminiaux, eds, The Collegium Phaenomenologicum: The First Ten Years, Dordrecht, Kluwer, 273-87.

1987. ”Following and Not Following Wittgenstein”, Inquiry, vol. 29, 363–76.

1985. “Being and Saying”, Inquiry, 27, 147–57.

1985. “L’idéologie de l’action et de la passion chez Maine de Biran”, Victor Cousin, les Idéologues et les Ecossais, Paris, Ecole Normale Supérieure, 49–59.

1984. “La philosophie à l’heure de la ‘rigueur’”, Les Amis de Sèvres, no. 116 (Philosophes de tous pays), 25-7.

1983. “The ‘Possibility’ of Heidegger’s Death”, Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology, vol. 14, 127–38.

1982. “Sartre’s Still Still-Born Social Dialectic”, Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology, 13, 1–14.

1982. “Heidegger’s Kant and the Middle Voice”, David Wood and Robert Bernasconi, eds, Time and Metaphysics, University of Warwick, Parousia Press, 87–120.

1978. “Origins, Being and Nothingness”, Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology, 9, 34–43.

1968. “Family Resemblance”, Philosophical Quarterly, 18, 344–6.

1966. “The Inconceivability of Pessimistic Determinism”, Analysis, 27, 39–44.

1965. “Propositions as Answers”, American Philosophical Quarterly, 2, 305–11.

1964. “Dialectical and Analytical Opposites”, Kant-Studien, Band 55, Heft 2, 171–4.

1964. “What is a Question?” Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 42, 69–85.

1964. “Three Conceptions of Faith”, Journal of Philosophy, 61, 237–44.

1962. “Presuppositions, Assumptions and Presumptions”, Theoria, 28, 158–72.

1962. “Unquantified Inductive Generalizations”, Analysis, 23, 134–7.

1961. “Collingwood’s Doctrine of Absolute Presuppositions”, Philosophical Quarterly, 11, 49–60.

1960. “Conscientiousness”, Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 38, 218–24.

Articles in Welsh[edit]

2009. “Edmund Husserl,” in John Daniel and Walford L. Gealy, eds. Hanes Athroniaeth y Gorllewin (History of Western Philosophy), Cardiff, University of Wales Press, 574–593

2005. “Friedrich Nietzsche”, Efrydiau Athronyddol (Philosophical Studies), Cardiff, University of Wales Press, 114–138, also in John Daniel and Walford L. Gealy, eds.Hanes Athroniaeth y Gorllewin (History of Western Philosophy)


  1. ^ "Double Readings" J.M. Bernstein and D.F. Krell, Times Higher Education Supplement, 12 February 1988
  2. ^ Christopher Norris, Derrida, London: Fontana 1987, p. 245
  3. ^ Jacques Derrida, The Animal That Therefore I Am, New York: Fordham University Press 2008, p. 107
  4. ^ Sean Hand, Emmanuel Levinas, London: Routledge 2009, p. 130