Katherine Kirby
University of St. Michael's College
In defending Levinas’s ethical theory against Ricoeur’s objections in Oneself as Another, I make a two-fold argument in regard to heroic action and the ordinary ethical relation. First, I suggest a definition of the hero as she who does what is right—that is, what is ethically necessary or obligatory—even when it requires extreme sacrifice. Second, I argue that the development of virtuous character, out of which such heroic action comes, is dependent upon the asymmetrical relation between an alterior Other and a self who is willing to sacrifice to do what is right. Re-orienting oneself toward the ethical relation is, itself, a sacrifice, requiring that one adopt a non-reciprocal, asymmetrical devotion to the Other. Thus, ethics, including both heroic and ordinary ethical behavior, ought not be founded on notions of friendship, symmetry, or mutuality, but rather on absolute difference, asymmetry, and self-sacrifice
Keywords Catholic Tradition  Contemporary Philosophy  History of Philosophy
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ISBN(s) 0019-0365
DOI 10.5840/ipq201050216
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