Commenced in January 2007
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Paper Count: 2

Search results for: Levinas

2 A Levinasian Perspective on the Field of Applied Ethics

Authors: Payman Tajalli, Steven Segal

Abstract:

Applied ethics is an area of ethics which is looked upon most favorably as the most appropriate and useful for educational purposes; after all if ethics finds no application would any investment of time, effort and finance by the educational institutions be warranted? The current approaches to ethics in business and management often entail appealing to various types of moral theories and to this end almost every major philosophical approach has been enlisted. In this paper, we look at ethics through the philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas to argue that since ethics is ‘first philosophy’ it can neither be rule-based nor rule-governed, not something that can be worked out first and then applied to a given situation, hence the overwhelming emphasis on ‘applied ethics’ as a field of study in business and management education is unjustified. True ethics is not applied ethics. This assertion does not mean that teaching ethical theories and philosophies need to be abandoned rather it is the acceptance of the fact that an increase in cognitive awareness of such theories and ethical models and frameworks, or the mastering of techniques and procedures for ethical decision making, will not affect the desired ethical transformation in our students. Levinas himself argued for an ethics without a foundation, not one that required us to go ‘beyond good and evil’ as Nietzsche contended, rather an ethics which necessitates going ‘before good and evil'. Such an ethics does not provide us with a set of methods or techniques or a decision tree that enable us determine the rightness of an action and what we ought to do, rather it is about a way of being, an ethical posture or approach one takes in the inter-subjective relationship with the other that holds the promise of ethical conduct. Ethics in this Levinasian sense then is one of infinite and unconditional responsibility for the other person in relationship, an ethics which is not subject to negotiation, calculation or reciprocity, and as such it could neither be applied nor taught through conventional pedagogy with its focus on knowledge transfer from the teacher to student, and to this end Levinas offers a non-maieutic, non-conventional approach to pedagogy. The paper concludes that from a Levinasian perspective on ethics and education, we may need to guide our students to move away from the clear and objective professionalism of the management and applied ethics towards the murky individual spiritualism. For Levinas, this is ‘the Copernican revolution’ in ethics.

Keywords: business ethics, ethics education, Levinas, maieutic teaching, ethics without foundation

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1 The Imminent Other in Anna Deavere Smith’s Performance

Authors: Joy Shihyi Huang

Abstract:

This paper discusses the concept of community in Anna Deavere Smith’s performance, one that challenges and explores existing notions of justice and the other. In contrast to unwavering assumptions of essentialism that have helped to propel a discourse on moral agency within the black community, Smith employs postmodern ideas in which the theatrical attributes of doubling and repetition are conceptualized as part of what Marvin Carlson coined as a ‘memory machine.’ Her dismissal of the need for linear time, such as that regulated by Aristotle’s The Poetics and its concomitant ethics, values, and emotions as a primary ontological and epistemological construct produced by the existing African American historiography, demonstrates an urgency to produce an alternative communal self to override metanarratives in which the African Americans’ lives are contained and sublated by specific historical confines. Drawing on Emmanuel Levinas’ theories in ethics, specifically his notion of ‘proximity’ and ‘the third,’ the paper argues that Smith enacts a new model of ethics by launching an acting method that eliminates the boundary of self and other. Defying psychological realism, Smith conceptualizes an approach to acting that surpasses the mere mimetic value of invoking a ‘likeness’ of an actor to a character, which as such, resembles the mere attribution of various racial or sexual attributes in identity politics. Such acting, she contends, reduces the other to a representation of, at best, an ultimate rendering of me/my experience. She instead appreciates ‘unlikeness,’ recognizes the unavoidable actor/character gap as a power that humbles the self, whose irreversible journey to the other carves out its own image.

Keywords: Anna Deavere Smith, Emmanuel Levinas, other, performance

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