Levinas on the Social: Guilt and the City

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This paper focuses on Levinas's understanding of the social as distinguished from the political. In his neo-phenomenological work, Levinas never conceptualized the difference between the political and the social, because he was more interested in the difference between the ethical and everything else. In his Talmudic Readings, however, with the help of examples or paradigms, he offers a vision of a social domain distinct from the political one. This paper concentrates on the Talmudic Readings to delineate those situations in which Levinas distinguishes such a specifically social realm. It analyzes Levinas's understanding of the city as paradigm of liberalism's shortcomings and elaborates on the absence of the social in Levinas's conception of a good life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-43
Number of pages17
JournalTheory, Culture and Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2015


  • Levinas
  • city
  • guilt
  • poor
  • social

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • General Social Sciences


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