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Identity, Alterity and Racial Difference in Levinas

  • Louis Blond
Chapter
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Abstract

The concept of identity has changed considerably over the past half century as philosophical theories concerning the subject have been transformed by positivism, post-war experience, the collapse of Empire, the rise of multiculturalism, feminism, and the post-structuralist and postcolonial deconstruction of the subject. Emmanuel Levinas is one voice in a large company of theorists who have criticised the claims of Enlightenment reason and the centrality of the Cartesian subject and the category of identity; his critique of Western philosophy has been hugely influential across a broad range of disciplines. In particular, Levinas’ description of the self in relation to the Other, a relationship he describes as essentially ‘ethical’, decentres the Cartesian subject and opens up a positive account of difference that places ethics at the heart of identity and alterity. His thought is also evocative in an extra-philosophical sense as the reintroduction of Jewish concepts and narrative into philosophy disrupts the univocality of a tradition that has worked hard to eradicate its theological inheritance.

Keywords

Racial Identity Western Philosophy Transcendental Phenomenology Radical Alterity Postcolonial Theorist 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Louis Blond
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Cape TownCape TownSouth Africa

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