Arnold I. Davidson's main area of research and teaching is the history of contemporary European thought. He is interested in the interactions between philosophy and literature, especially from the point of view of moral and political philosophy, as well as in the role of literary genres in the history of philosophy and theology. He has a special interest in improvisation as an aesthetic, ethical and political practice. He has written about and taught courses on some of the major figures of twentieth-century French and Italian literature and has edited two collections of essays by and about Primo Levi, La vacanza morale del fascismo. Intorno a Primo Levi and Vivir para contar. Escribir tras Auschwitz. He has published widely on contemporary French philosophy (Foucault, Hadot, Lévinas, Jankélévitch, Canguilhem, etc.), the history of sexuality, as well as on the relations between philosophy, religion, history and literature. Taking up this variety of perspectives, he has recently been working on the literature of the Shoah.
He has been a visiting professor at many French institutions (including the Collège de France, the École Normale Supérieure, the University of Paris I and the University of Paris VII) and has also been Professor of the History of Political Philosophy at the University of Pisa and Professor of the Philosophy of Cultures at the University Ca'Foscari Venice, where he has been named an honorary member of the faculty. He is also European editor of the journal Critical Inquiry. Most recently he has been a Distinguished Visiting Professor at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In 2018 he was named an Honorary Fellow of The Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In addition, he has been the jazz critic for the Sunday cultural supplement, "Domenica", of the Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore.
His main publications are in French, Italian and Spanish, as well as in English.
See also his page on the Philosophy Department website for further information about his publications and courses.