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Against "the European notion of man": Levinas, freedom, and the responsible body

Kiloh, Kathy J. (2015) Against "the European notion of man": Levinas, freedom, and the responsible body. PhaenEx, 10. pp. 76-99. ISSN 1911-1576

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Official URL: http://phaenex.uwindsor.ca/ojs/leddy/index.php/pha...


Emmanuel Levinas’ early essay “Reflections on the Philosophy of Hitlerism” provides us with a clear description what Levinas’ conception of subjectivity as a lived, bodily experience rejects: “the European notion of man” (7). This paper traces the argument Levinas presents in “Reflections on the Philosophy of Hitlerism,” providing links between this early essay and Levinas’ later, major works: Totality and Infinity and Otherwise than Being or Beyond Essence. The political interrogation of liberalism at the heart of Levinas’ depiction of the subject as creaturely and his discussion of subjectivity as substitution is revealed by orienting the later works towards “Reflections on the Philosophy of Hitlerism.” Levinas’ description of the ethical relation between myself and all the others locates both my freedom and my responsibility to the other in the inseparable unity of body and spirit. As creatures, and as subjects in substitution, we experience our own freedom as dependent upon our responsibility for the others; unlike the subject of liberalism, the Levinasian subject cannot conform to the racist ideology promoted by the philosophy of Hiterlism without renouncing its own freedom.

Item Type: Article
Divisions: Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences
Date Deposited: 30 May 2016 13:19
Last Modified: 02 Aug 2021 08:41
URI: https://openresearch.ocadu.ca/id/eprint/881

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