The ethical significance of illeity (emmanuel lévinas)

Heythrop Journal 37 (2):125–138 (1996)
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From inception to extinction, objective criteria regarding the defining characteristics of "personhood" are sought to justify responsibility. But, when we relate to others, what do we actually relate to? In The Ethical Significance of Illeity, L vinas's concept of illeity is used to argue that the responsibility owed to others flows not from an ability to comprehend the defining characteristics of "personhood" but from the fact that persons are ultimately "neutral" and beyond disclosure. Ethics should not be dominated by knowledge; rather, the ethical relationship with the other should guide the progress of understanding. Philosophy is the wisdom of love at the service of love



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