Ethics and the place of the other

Neve Gordon

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

"Nothing could limit the homage due him" - such was Emmanuel Levinas's estimation of Martin Buber (OS, 41). The numerous essays Levinas dedicated to the examination of Buber's thought reveal the high esteem in which he held Buber.1 Yet these essays also demonstrate the profound disagreement between the two thinkers on a number of fundamental issues - a disagreement that has not been sufficiently explored.2 In the following pages, I shall focus on Levinas's critique of Buber's notion of reciprocity, contrasting it with the prominent place of the "other" in Levinas's thought. Levinas's emphasis on the other contributes notably to contemporary ethical discourse, particularly in a time characterized by increasing intolerance towards the other and the violence that accompanies this intolerance. However, Buber's thought does not lend itself to an ethical relation that commences with the other, or to an ethical relation founded upon the other. Unlike Levinas, Buber believed that "if all were clothed and well nourished, then the real ethical problem would become wholly visible for the first time" (PMB, 723).

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLevinas and Buber
Subtitle of host publicationDialogue and Difference
PublisherDuquesne University Press
Pages98-115
Number of pages18
ISBN (Print)0820703494, 9780820703497
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2004
Externally publishedYes

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