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Paperback | Out of Print | 506 pp. | 5.9 x 8.9 in | January 1999 | ISBN: 9780262621298
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Sites of Vision

The Discursive Construction of Sight in the History of Philosophy


In recent years scholars from many disciplines have become interested in the "construction" of the human senses—in how the human environment shapes both how and what we perceive. Taking a very different approach to the question of construction, Sites of Vision turns to language and explores the ways in which the rhetoric of philosophy has formed the nature of vision and how, in turn, the rhetoric of vision has helped to shape philosophical thought. The central role of vision in relation to philosophy is evident in the vocabulary of the discipline—in words such as "speculation," "observation," "insight," and "reflection"; in metaphors such as "mirroring," "perspective," and "point of view"; and in methodological concepts such as "reflective detachment" and "representation." Because the history of vision is so pervasively reflected in the history of philosophy, it is possible for both vision and thought to achieve a greater awareness of their genealogy through the history of philosophy.

The fourteen contributors to Sites of Vision explore the hypothesis that the nature of visual perception about which philosophers talk must be explicitly recognized as a discursive construction, indeed a historical construction, in philosophical discourse.


“"This book is highly stimulating for all who try to combine history, phenomenology and genealogy of vision, following Nietzsche, Husserl, Heidegger, Benjamin, Merleau-Ponty, Foucault, Derrida and others. They will learn to what extent Western ocularcentrism is a mixture of optics, politics and ethics of vision. Seeing otherwise would mean to be aware of what is invisible within the visible and to respond to the gaze of the other."”
Bernhard Waldenfels, Institue of Philosophy, Ruhr-Universitat Bochum
“"Professor Levin has produced a remarkable and timely volume on the history of the hegemony of spectatorial vision in Western systems of thought and in our idea of how to do philosophy. Sites of Vision presents a nuanced, many-sided assessment of the meaning of ocularcentrism and its effects in the history of philosophy and politics. Levin offers us a compelling, trustworthy guide to assessing 'the scopic regime' as a force of domination in Western thought."”
Galen A. Johnson, Professor of Philosophy, University of Rhode Island
“"Once again, David Michael Levin has generated a splendid collection of essays dealing with the seemingly inexhaustible problem of the eye in the mind of Western philosophy. Not only will scholars seeking fresh interpretations of a wide variety of master thinkers benefit by reading these texts, so too will anyone fascinated by the powerful and perplexing role of visual experience in human culture as a whole."”
Martin Jay, Department of History, University of California
“"That optic paradigms have led Western thought is well known, but a thorough investigation of the exact way in which they did has been lacking. This book sets milestones for a genealogy of seeing through excellent studies on Aristotle and fourteen classics of modern and postmodern philosophy, thus urging us to re-think the conditioning of thought by one of the senses."”
Adriaan T. Peperzak, Arthur J. Schmitt Professor of Philosophy, Loyola University