The way we understand community fundamentally structures the way we approach justice. In opposition to totalizing structures of justice founded upon an ontological conception of community, Emmanuel Levinas conceives the possibility of a political or social structure of difference. I argue that the conceptions of community presented by Kant and Heidegger, either as a harmonious, unified being in common, or as a common-identity disclosed beneath the ontological horizon of being-with, necessarily leads to violence. This violence is reflected in the forms of justice instantiated by these philosophies, which privilege the â€˜lightâ€™ of the universal over the particularity of individuals in the face-to-face encounter, ultimately corrupting and nullifying oneâ€™s anarchic moral responsibility for the Other. The intent of this thesis is to argue that justice can only remain just if it is seen, not on the basis of a communal â€˜lightâ€™ that absorbs, integrates, and incorporates the Other as an element of a system, but as founded on the anarchic responsibility of the one-for-the-Other. Justice, I will show, cannot be seen as an aim of a communityâ€”complete and self-sufficientâ€”in achieving an end, but as a rupture, a disturbance, as a call made among a multitude of particular, unique Others by which ethics (the face-to-face) is fundamental.
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Janz, Bruce B.
Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)
College of Arts and Humanities
Arts and Humanities -- Dissertations, Academic; Dissertations, Academic -- Arts and Humanities
Length of Campus-only Access
Honors in the Major Thesis
Tomasello, Olga, "Levinas on the 'Origin' of Justice: Kant, Heidegger, and a Communal Structure of Difference" (2014). HIM 1990-2015. 1802.