Deborah Achtenberg, Ph.D.

Professor, Emeritus
Deborah Achtenberg


Professor Achtenberg is the author of Essential Vulnerabilities: Plato and Levinas on Relations to the Other (Northwestern University Press, 2014) and of Cognition of Value in Aristotle's Ethics: Promise of Enrichment, Threat of Destruction (State University of New York Press, 2002).

Her essay “Force Inside Identity: Self and Other in Améry’s “On the Necessity and Impossibility of Being a Jew” appeared in the Journal of French and Francophone Philosophy in 2016, “Bearing the Other and Bearing Sexuality: Women and Gender in Levinas's 'And God Created Woman'” in Levinas Studies in 2015, “Plato and Levinas on Violence and the Other” in Symposium: Canadian Journal of Continental Philosophy in 2011 and "The Eternal and the New: Socrates and Levinas on Desire and Need" in Levinas and the Ancients (Indiana University Press) in 2008. She has also published essays on Aristotle’s ethics.

Recent conference presentations include “Comment on Annabel Herzog’s Levinas’s Politics,” North American Levinas Society (NALS), 2021, “Time and Being Jewish,” NALS 2020, “Resituating Essential Vulnerabilities,” a 2019 NALS keynote lecture, and “The Beautiful and Ugly: A Reading of Plato’s Hippias Major” (from Essential Vulnerabilities) at the 2018 Ancient Philosophy Society annual meeting with SPEP.

She is currently working on Emmanuel Levinas’s response to Jean-Paul Sartre’s portrait of the Jew in Reflections on the Jewish Question.

Research interests

  • Ancient Greek philosophy (especially Plato and Aristotle)
  • Recent continental European philosophy (especially Levinas and Derrida)
  • Psychoanalytic theory

Courses taught

  • Phil 211 — Introduction to Ancient Philosophy
  • Phil 314 — Survey of 20th Century Continental European Philosophy
  • Phil 323 — Problems in the Philosophy of Religion
  • Phil 409/609 — Recent French Philosophy: Emmanuel Levinas
  • Phil 409/609 — Recent French Philosophy: Jacques Derrida
  • Phil 410/610 — Plato
  • Phil 411/611 — Aristotle
  • Phil 476 — The Self: Philosophic and Psychoanalytic Explorations
  • Phil 477 — Sigmund Freud: Philosophic and Cultural Approaches


  • Ph.D., New School for Social Research, 1982