Not to be European would not be 'to be European still': Undoing Eurocentrism in Levinas and others

Avram Alpert


In this essay I return to the difficult relation between the ethics and politics of Emmanuel Levinas through his critique of "paganism" and "primitivism." I argue that Levinas' central philosophical claims are fundamentally constituted by his problematic conceptions of so-called primitive life. Thus unlike current scholarship which has tried to put a wedge between Levinas' ethics and his politics (a wedge I aim to refute in the beginning of the essay), I suggest that one way to make Levinas' contributions meaningful in a global world is to unhinge the philosophy from the beginning. Building on the dialogue between Levinas and Derrida, as well as contemporary anthropology, I argue that we can make an orginary agnostic moment prior to his work, which might allow us to think through a plurality of ethical subjectivities.


Levinas; postcolonial theory; philosophical anthropology

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