ENACTING LEVINAS’S INFINITE RESPONSIBILITY AS AN ETHICO-POLITICAL COMPROMISE

  • Julio A. Andrade Department of Philosophy, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa.

Abstract

Levinas’s work does not offer us an ethical theory but seeks rather to
describe a pre-originary ethical encounter with the other. Within this face-to-face
encounter with the other, my subjectivity is held hostage because of an originary
asymmetry between us. This ethical asymmetry produces an infinite responsibility
to and for the other, in order that the singularity of the other be preserved. In order
to moderate such a demanding position Levinas introduces the third party who
restores justice by permitting ethical calculation. This marks a move from ethics to
politics. Nonetheless, there remains a lacuna between ethics and politics. I argue
for a reading of Levinas’s claim that the third party is an incessant correction of
the asymmetry of proximity in order to posit infinite responsibility as the
compromise of ethics with politics. I discuss some implications for business ethics,
in particular CSR, in light of these findings.

Published
2019-05-03