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The Ethics of the Other and the Political Philosophy of the Third in E. Levinas

parkyeeun 1

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ABSTRACT

Emmanuel Levinas, who began the philosophy of the Other, is often defined solely as an ethical philosopher and less valued in the realm of political philosophy. But ethics and politics should never be separated. Moreover, there was a clear political project in Levinas’ thought. How was political thinking possible for Levinas? This paper will examine how his ethics of the Other had moved to the political field through the concept of the third party in Totality and Infinity and Otherwise than Being. Levinas uses the notion of the third party to universalize his ethics of asymmetry. However, there is a difficulty in understanding the third party clearly because the third party is not discussed with due weight and because these two books explicate the third party in different manner. Moreover, it is very doubtable whether the notion of the third party is ever consistently used in the two books. However, we can definitely find his attempt to bridge the gap between ethics, which is face-to-face relationship with the Other, and politics, which is the relationship with the third party. This essay goes beyond this and aims to fend off several suspicions that are related to reality via the notion of the third party when the asymmetric ethics of the Other is thought about in the realm of politics.

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