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Philosophy in the Contemporary World

Volume 24, Issue 1, Spring 2017

Jonathan Yahalom
Pages 51-62

Levinasian Caregiving
Dementia and the Other-In-Between

This article reviews the work of philosopher Emmanuel Levinas to explore caregiving for dementia. It defends a dual thesis whereby it first articulates how Levinas provides a phenomenological description to account for why caregiving is subjectively dreadful and, second, how caregiving invites a fresh re-reading of Levinasian thought. The article introduces two different forms of otherness represented by death and dementia, respectively. This re-reading shows how dementia forces us to more immediately reckon with the intensity Levinas attributes to the nature of human interaction. The article concludes with reflections about what dementia suggests about cultural attitudes towards responsibility and implications for caregiving practice.

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