The ethics of alterity and the teaching of otherness

Business Ethics 16 (3):251–263 (2007)
Abstract
This paper proposes that Levinas's philosophy of alterity and infinitude based upon the ethical relation between Self and Other - is both profound and limited in its ability to account for social practice. Instead of simply accepting the common criticism of Levinas, however, that he places an intolerable ethical burden of infinitude upon human relations, this paper aims to move beyond this impasse by placing Levinas's metaphysics within a frame that privileges the dynamic between the Self and the Other as a socially oriented, participative practice of teaching and learning. It is suggested that Etienne Wenger's work on the emergence of identity as a constant negotiation between the Others and the Self provides a conceptual framework for how business ethics may be owned, negotiated and learned within organizational communities without sacrificing the horizon of infinitude bestowed upon us by Levinas's ethical philosophy. Finally, the practical implications of such a comparative approach for the teaching of alterity in business ethics are discussed.
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