History and the Other: Dussel's Challenge to Levinas

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Arts and Humanities | History | Latin American History | Philosophy


Is history a product of human thought that betrays the lived uniqueness of persons, reducing 'otherness' to the categories of the understanding and to its historical consequences? Or is history too 'thick' to be synchronized in memory and historical consciousness? The article, taking its inspiration from Enrique Dussel's ethics of liberation and particular moments of Latin American history, develops the notion of the proximity of history, phenomenologically critiquing Emmanuel Levinas's own reduction of history to consciousness, his reading of history as a synchronizing betrayal of diachronic events. It thus reads Levinas against his own texts, arguing that historical memory and historical encounters function much as the face does in Levinas's own ethics, not only giving rise to irrecusable responsibilities, but also demanding the work of a critical, conscious appropriation of that history.


DOI: 10.1177/0191453704042217