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Community of singularities : the possibility of being-with in the work of Heidegger, Lévinas and Derrida

The aim of this study is to attempt a re-conceptualisation of ethics and politics away from the well-rehearsed structure of singularity versus community, particularity or individuality versus universality, as well as from the inadequate dyadic positioning of these sets of terms. Dominant scholarship on Lévinas's and Derrida's work has generally been divided into those who see Derrida's work as continuing the Lévinasian legacy, and thus having little to offer to the political, and those who would like to divorce the trajectory of deconstruction from the Lévinasian heritage, and thus reveal it as being inherently political. The above split in opinion is largely based on a divergence in the interpretation of Lévinas's own writings as essentially about ethics, and therefore as either having little to offer to our thinking of the political, or as undergoing something like a ‘split', with the focus coming to rest more clearly on politics through the figure of the third, in later writings. My contribution to this impasse is to foreground a recent, though much overlooked notion within Jacques Derrida's work as an alternative to thinking being-with: that of community of singularities. I also suggest the notions of alteronomy and fiendship as alternatives to thinking being-with, which take into account the way in which the other-within-the-self restructures the concepts of freedom and autonomy and takes them beyond a humanist context. I will be arguing from two overarching points: a) that Lévinas's own work can convincingly be interpreted as not only concerned with the political from his earliest writings, but as setting up the political as the interruptive force within the ethical, thus providing a shift in perspective for what is essentially a mutually-interruptive relation between ethics and politics, and b) that Derrida's own writing need not be ‘divorced' from Lévinas's trajectory of thought, in order to be considered as having something to offer to our re-thinking of the relation between ethics and politics.
CreatorsPopescu, Maria Alexandra
PublisherUniversity of Sussex
Source SetsEthos UK
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeElectronic Thesis or Dissertation

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