The Third Third: Levinas and “We”
Van Roermund, Bert
In Levinas’s writings the phrase of ‘the third person’ is used, first and foremost, to characterize the epiphany of ‘the Other’ as someone who remains absent from any encounter with the first person, constituting an ever receding horizon of normativity (section 2). It is also used to intro-duce the instance of ‘le tiers’, i.e., the vantage point of law, judging between parties who are first and second person to each other (section 3). Both of these ‘third persons’ have major implica-tions for our account of law. I will argue (section 4) that there is a third ‘third person’, remaining remarkably absent from Levinas’s thought as well as absent from the scene in which the first person is summoned by the second and the third. This third third person is hiding in a polity’s plural selfhood, the ‘we, ourselves’ whose is as evasive as ‘the Other’, though on different grounds. Since positive law in Modernity is a political artefact, articulating the first-person plural in a Levinasian vein is a precondition for appreciating its relevance for the idea of law. A brief rehearsal of some main lines in Levinas’s philosophy (section 1) prepares the ground for the three-staged argument.
EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste
Bert Van Roermund, "The Third Third: Levinas and 'We'" in: "Etica & Politica / Ethics & Politics (2021) XXIII/1", EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste, Trieste, 2021, pp. 203-220
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