Ethics, Interrupted: Community and Impersonality in Levinas

Marchi, Viola (2015). Ethics, Interrupted: Community and Impersonality in Levinas. SPELL, 32, pp. 143-158. Gunter Narr

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Despite the influence of Emmanuel Levinas’s ethics on the rethinking of community in post-identitarian terms (most prominently in the work of Maurice Blanchot, Alphonso Lingis, and, to a lesser extent, Jean-Luc Nancy), the question of community remains a problematic spot in Levinas’s own philosophy. I would argue that, instead of grounding a new thinking of community, the dyadic relation of Same and Other poses a structural problem when trying to open the ethical relation to the wider realm of others while keeping radical difference in place. As external observer and guarantor of justice, for instance, is the Third excluded a priori from the ethical relation? Is community always only another term for the political? Or, as Levinas himself puts it in Otherwise Than Being: “What meaning can community take on in difference without reducing difference?” Identifying in the notion of impersonality a way to access Levinas’s thought on community, this paper aims at rethinking the scene of address and the ethical relation in terms of displacement, dislocation and interruption.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Linguistics and Literary Studies > Institute of English Languages and Literatures > American Studies
06 Faculty of Humanities > Other Institutions > Walter Benjamin Kolleg (WBKolleg) > Center for Global Studies (CGS)


800 Literature, rhetoric & criticism > 810 American literature in English




Gunter Narr




Dr. Des. Viola Marchi

Date Deposited:

27 Feb 2015 11:57

Last Modified:

25 Jul 2018 14:48


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