Alphonso Lingis is an American philosopher, writer and translator.
Currently, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Pennsylvania State University, his areas of specialization include phenomenology, existentialism, modern philosophy, and ethics. Lingis has had wide success as a public lecturer due both to his captivating style of writing and also the performance art atmosphere of his lectures. During public talks he generally appears in costume or speaks amidst strange background music or recorded screams, often in total darkness.
His debut as a book author came in 1982, with Excesses
. It combined anthropological scenes with numerous references to the history of philosophy, and marks the emergence of his mature writing style, which alternates between lyrical and dark. In The Imperative
(1998), his most systematic book, Lingis offers his own original criticism of phenomenology. In his view, phenomenology is excessively dominated by holism, overemphasizing the interconnectedness of all regions and objects in the world. By contrast, Lingis holds that the world is made up of numerous self-contained and mutually external levels, to which humans must adjust their perceptions and ideas. He also argues that phenomenology is dominated by the Gestalt psychology model of figures appearing against a background. Fusing Merleau-Ponty's phenomenology of perception with the ethics of Levinas, Lingis contends that ethical imperatives come not only from other humans, but also from animals, plants, and even inanimate objects.
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