Levinas and the palestinians

Philosophy and Social Criticism 35 (6):671-684 (2009)
Levinas is often credited with introducing a strong notion of ethics into postmodern thought. But his commitment to Zionism, his views on the Palestinian people, and his underformulated theory of justice raise questions about the desirability of his thinking for politics. In this study, the well-known encounter between Levinas and the Palestinians is addressed in order to determine how his philosophy of ethics can be deployed for political ends. As the philosopher famously concerned with the connection between self and the Other, the relation between Levinas, Israel and the Palestinians stands as the natural political test of his ethics. Based on this encounter, it is demonstrated that Levinasian justice is too unsafe as a prescription for a political order. Only when Levinas' ethics as first philosophy is supported by love as first politics is his Messianic polity acceptable
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