Speaking at the bedrock of ethics

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Spoma Jovanovic, Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/

Abstract: In a moment familiar to many of us, one of the authors of this piece attended a philosophical meeting on the topic of Emmanuel Levinas. "So, you are in communication studies," said a philosopher during a break. "Why would a speech person be interested in Levinas?" This paper probes the place of speech in Levinasian ethics. We hope to show that when philosopher Emmanuel Levinas rested his compelling life project on ethics, he said something new about the act of speaking itself. First, for Levinas, speaking begins with the imperative issued by the presence or face of the other. He calls that issuance the saying. Antecedent to words, the saying is the commitment of an approach to the other, the move to response, the signifying of signification. Second, the saying moves into language where it is subordinated to the said. It is in the coordination of the saying and the said that ethics shows itself or is betrayed. Although the saying is perhaps overwhelmed by the said, it remains present even in absence. Third, for Levinas we can sense the ineffable, yet present, call to responsibility in the trace. The trace, and here Levinas brings God to mind, reveals the saying, and is communicated in the face.((1)) The face, the saying, and the trace are where the Levinasian responsibility of the one for the other takes form. They are the home of ethics.((2))

Additional Information

Philosophy & Rhetoric, 37 (2), 317-334
Language: English
Date: 2004
Levinasian ethics, Communication

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