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Ethics and Politics after PoststructuralismLevinas, Derrida and Nancy$
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Madeleine Fagan

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780748685134

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748685134.001.0001

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Emmanuel Levinas

Emmanuel Levinas

Ethics as Relation

(p.44) Chapter 2 Emmanuel Levinas
Ethics and Politics after Poststructuralism

Derrida Levinas


Edinburgh University Press

Chapter 2 focuses on Emmanuel Levinas’s work on relation and the Other, often used as an ethical starting point for poststructuralist approaches. This leads to two key interrelated insights which shape the rethinking of ethics in terms of relationality: first, the presentation of subjectivity as relational and responsible; second, the immediate, pre-conscious and thus non-theoretical nature of responsibility to the face of the Other. However, rather than Levinas as simply offering an ethical starting point the chapter argues for an alternative reading in which the implications of relationality are not constrained by a focus simply on ethics. Rather, the chapter argues that his approach to thinking ethics without theory or foundations is one in which the political is always already implicated. In order to develop this reading, the chapter emphasises the role of the ‘third person’ as the figure which complicates the separation of ethics and politics in Levinas’ work.

Keywords:   Levinas, the Other, The third person, relational subjectivity, the face, responsibility, the political, ethics as first philosophy

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