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Questioning the “We” in Times of Global Threats with Butler and Levinas

In: Research in Phenomenology
Author:
Lucia Angelino Researcher (Marie Sklodowska-Curie fellow), Archives Husserl – Pays Germaniques, UMR 8547 CNRS/ENS, École normale supérieure Paris France

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https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4599-5550
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Abstract

Today, the “we” has not lost its place in contemporary debates. On the contrary, it has become a crucial question in the political and philosophical debates relating to global-scale disasters and traumatic events, which expose all of humanity to the same risks and same threats. In a dramatic and paradigmatic way, these events invite us to “mourn” the fantasy of self-sufficiency of the I and remind us to which extent our lives are immediately linked to those of others. At the same time, however, these events, which yields the potential to reveal a relationality constitutive of “who we are,” also suggest the need to reframe our understanding of the “we,” and to overcome the us/them divide upon which it has been construed until now. In this essay, I take up this challenge by first engaging in a critical discussion of Judith Butler’s ethics of vulnerability, and then turning to the ethical philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas.

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