Volume 5, Issue Part 1, 2010
Selected Essays from North America Part 1
Michael D. Barber
Ethics, Eidetics, and the Ethical Subject
A Critique of Enrique Dussel’s Appropriation of the Thought of Emmanuel Levinas
Enrique Dussel’s Etica de la Liberacion en le Edad de la Globalizacion y de la Exclusion is undoubtedly one of the most important books of the last ten years in the current of thought known as “liberation philosophy,” and this book is valuable for the way it seeks to incorporate the thought of Emmanuel Levinas into a philosophy addressing global oppression and exclusion. However, Dussel fails to appreciate fully the distinctiveness of ethical experience according to Levinas as well as the significance of the eidetic features of Levinas’s account in particular for the understanding of subjectivity. Furthermore, in his discussion of subjectivity in the Etica, Dussel neglects how ethical responsibility can produce a powerful subject. As a consequence, he overlooks how this possibility, which in its generality is available to oppressors and victims of globalization alike, can be realized by the victims becoming responsible for other victims and coming to fear, as Levinas puts it, the murder of the other more than their own death.