This essay argues that an ethics based on the demand of the other simply flees from the typical issues of traditional ethical thinking, which have to concern the self as the primary locus of response and responsibility but also have to justify what can be a demand on that self and with what degree of importance. The ethics of the other seems dangerously close to existentialist versions of authenticity. The test case is Simon Critchley’s elegantly argued Infinitely Demanding: Ethics of Commitment, Politics of Resistance. This book seems trapped into having to convert the negatives of poststructural ontology into a positive force for shaping ethical responsibility, with no positive term. Seeing Critchley’s problems sets off, by contrast, the importance of William V. Spanos’s work because he retained in his postmodernist thinking the importance of Martin Heidegger’s sense of event that provides a significant positive term for determining values.
Charles Altieri; Can There Be a Plausible Ethics Developed from Poststructuralist Ontology?. boundary 2 1 May 2015; 42 (2): 231–245. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01903659-2866830
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