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Levinas Studies

Volume 3, 2008

John Drabinski
Pages 101-115

On Subjectivity and Political Debt

Much of the work on Levinas and political philosophy is content to note two things: the resistance of the ethical to politics and the messianic dimension of Levinas’s thought. The task, then, has largely been to identify (usually formal) points of resistance and/or to trace out the figures of messianism in the various functions of the prophetic word. Themes of singularity and eschatology therefore dominate the discussion. While both of these aspects of his work are important and can pay interesting dividends, one cannot but note another result: a lack of materiality in developing a Levinasian politics. This need not be the case. Indeed, much of my concern in what follows is to open up the possibility of thinking about Levinas and politics in a manner that reintroduces an element of concreteness.

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