Ethical Language as an Alternative to Phenomenology

By Marta Szabat.

Published by The International Journal of Civic, Political, and Community Studies

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Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: August 22, 2014 $US5.00

In this paper, I intend to reflect on the meaning of what Emmanuel Levinas called “ethical language” for the consideration of humanity and its role in the contemporary world. The point of departure for my considerations is the phenomenological tradition, in which Levinas is included. However, his philosophy goes far beyond phenomenology, pointing to ethics as the main direction for the contemporary era. In his propositions, such values as responsibility and devotion to the Other may be the basis for thought on what it means to "be responsible" and on how to formulate responsibility in language (which would be "ethical language", "the language of responsibility"). In this perspective, ethical language moves far beyond a communicative function, becoming a certain way of being, a responsible function in society. The paper is divided into three parts. The first one is a presentation of Levinas’ thought against the background of phenomenology and a demonstration of “anti-phenomenological” moments in this philosophy. In the second one, I get closer to what the philosopher understood as "ethical language". In the third part, I indicate an actuality of "ethical language" as responsibility for one's own actions as well as those of others, including the responsibility towards future generations.

Keywords: Ethics, Responsibility

The International Journal of Civic, Political, and Community Studies, Volume 12, Issue 2, August 2014, pp.45-52. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: August 22, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 469.467KB)).

Dr Marta Szabat

Professor Assistant, Department of Philosophy and Bioethics, Jagiellonian University, Medical College, Krakow, Poland