Affinities in the socio-political thought of Rorty and Levinas

Philosophy and Social Criticism 32 (2):193-209 (2006)
This article considers the affinities in the socio-political thought of Emmanuel Levinas and Richard Rorty. The writings of both display considerable concern for the suffering of others. Both authors note the importance of a self-critical subject becoming more aware of its own injustice as very important for recognizing our responsibilities to others. Furthermore, both stress the importance of recognizing the other outside of the usual, objectifying categories, since it is the uniqueness of the other that reminds us of our responsibility for the other. Both writers view the liberal state as the best political forum in which to realize a fuller recognition of and responsibility towards the other, a form of state in which the ethical constantly interrupts the political. Rorty and Levinas disagree, however, on the legitimacy of not responding to the other. Key Words: Critchley • irony • justice • Levinas • liberal state • other • responsibility • Rorty • sentimental education.
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