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4. From Alienation to Recovery: The Subject’s Relationship to Institutional Violence

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Chapter Summary

This chapter reconstructs three paradigmatic ways of conceiving how institutions and practices interact with the ethical relationship between one's self and the other, according to Emmanuel Levinas. In the first paradigm, "alienation", practices and institutions appear as inflicting violence on innocent victims and as evoking outrage and vilification. In the second model, "neutrality", these external sources of violence are viewed in a modified way, as more neutral in character. In the third prototype, "recovery", practices and institutions are seen as recoverable, that is, they can become loci in which those whom they are able to victimize can also be preserved and protected. Accompanying this mutating view of practices and institutions, which does not exactly correspond with the development from "Totality and Infinity" to "Otherwise than Being", there are corresponding changes in the subject who approaches such institutions and practices and their potential for violence.

Keywords: alienation; Emmanuel Levinas; neutrality; recovery; violence



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