Non-Cognitive Ethics in Levinas and Kant

Dissertation, Emory University (1997)

Authors
Stuart Dalton
Western Connecticut State University
Abstract
In this dissertation I outline a theory of non-cognitive ethics--a theory of how ethics is possible in response to feeling rather than to concepts--that is drawn from the ethical philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas and the aesthetic thought of Immanuel Kant. In general I argue that in the work of Levinas we can find a description of non-cognitive ethics in which community and subjectivity are still meaningful, and that Kant's third Critique can contribute to this project by providing some of the transcendental conditions for such an ethics. ;I begin with a discussion of the general nature of Levinas's ethical project, and the three principal axes of that thought: the singular Other before whom we are obligated, the community of others to which we also belong, and the nature of the subject that must respond to both. Next, I focus on the contribution that Kant's third Critique can make to a Levinasian theory of non-cognitive ethics. After arguing that this contribution is rooted in a general affiliation between Kant's approach to aesthetics and Levinas's approach to ethics, I address three particular connections between Levinasian ethics and the third Critique. These connections involve the sublime and the fact of obligation, the beautiful and non-purposive communities, and finally orientation and ethical subjectivity
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