Levinas, meaning, and an ethical science of psychology: Scientific inquiry as rupture

Much of the understanding of the nature of science in contemporary psychology is founded on a positivistic philosophy of science that cannot adequately account for meaning as experienced. The phenomenological tradition provides an alternative approach to science that is attentive to the inherent meaningfulness of human action in the world. Emmanuel Levinas argues, however, that phenomenology, at least as traditionally conceived, does not provide sufficient grounds for meaning. Levinas argues that meaning is grounded in the ethical encounter with the Other such that meaning arises in rupture. For Levinas, the physical world and the I provide constraints on the meaning given by the Other, even as the Other is logically prior to all other experience. This Levinasian perspective advocates an epistemology that is open to the rupture of the Other as a way to knowledge. This emphasis on openness to rupture entails a methodology in which psychologists must allow the objects of study to guide their methods of research. Finally, the Levinasian perspective implies a scientific community that is sensitive to the rupture occasioned by the encounter with the Other. 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Keywords Levinas   epistemology   other   philosophy of science   psychology
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DOI 10.1037/a0027777
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