American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly

Volume 91, Issue 1, Winter 2017

James Greenaway
Pages 73-94

Politics as Secondary Belonging
Levinas and the Primacy of Fraternity

Belonging presents a range of problems that have been treated thematically in the social sciences. However, belonging has rarely been explored as an explicit theme in philosophy. That said, many philosophers have implicitly considered the problem of belonging in their own way. In this paper, the work of Emmanuel Levinas is presented and considered, especially where it relates to the political. In outlining Levinas’s thought on fraternity, we are presented with a belonging that is not yet political. It is in some ways, but not necessarily, pre-political. On the contrary, we begin to see how all that is meant by the political—the State, citizenship, the remit of justice—is secondary or subsidiary to the primacy of the ethical which, in its only extension beyond the Other, finds expression in fraternity or in our belonging with others.