Home > Philosophy > Something New Under the Sun: Levinas and the Ethics of Political Imagination

Something New Under the Sun: Levinas and the Ethics of Political Imagination

Farhang Erfani writes in PhaenEx:

Despite Emmanuel Levinas’ own ambivalent relationship to utopianism, Levinasian ethics and utopianism have much in common. First, I look at Levinas’ own remarks on utopianism, to underline the said ambivalence. It is clear that Levinas is concerned with utopia’s “totalitarian” potential. Then I turn to the utopian tradition and scholarship to argue that utopia ought to be properly understood precisely as a resistance to a given order, or totality. Utopia is a form of political imagination that positions itself against the dominant forces of its time, giving a voice to those who have “no place” in society. But there is an inherent danger to utopia as well. What if it lends itself to a dangerous “other”? I conclude by looking at Levinas’ politics and the importance of the Third, which politically keeps our singular ethical obligation in check by forcing us to think about our obligation to all other others.

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