Sarah Pessin

Hosted at University of Denver Anderson Academic Commons

part of a series on Ethics


About the speaker

Dr. Sarah Pessin is Professor of Philosophy and Judaic Studies and the Director of the Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Denver (DU). Sarah works on topics in philosophy and theology with an emphasis on the role of concepts like exile and fragility in personal identity and inter-human community-making. Sarah has strong interests in inter-cultural dialogue, and served as the creative director for the development of DU’s Holocaust Memorial Social Action Site which aims to build bridges across diverse communities in Colorado. The author of numerous publications (including her recent book, Ibn Gabirol’s Theology of Desire (Cambridge University Press, 2013)), Sarah is broadly interested in the sacred nature of inter-human response, and is currently working on a range of projects, including a study of the limits of forgiveness and non-forgiveness.

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Additional details

Ethics without Ethics: Optics (not Rules) for Responsive/Responsible Living

Ethics normally refers to rules for living—rules derived from human reasoning (such as: act in a way that maximizes positive outcomes for the greatest number of people) or rules derived from divine command (such as: act in whatever way religious tradition x says that God wants you to act). Either way, rules are rules. In this talk, we explore an alternative view of ethics in Emmanuel Levinas (1906-1995) for whom a certain vision of the self + a certain way of living in light of that vision of the self bring one to a committed life of responsive/responsible action without rules.