The Other (’s) Skepticism: Levinasian Reflections on Maternal Ethics and Feminist Politics
Middle Tennessee State University - Department of Political Science; University of Chicago - Department of Political Science
December 7, 2010
Midwest Political Science Association Annual Meeting 2011
The essay begins by examining how much of feminist theory today remains tethered to “the skeptical problematic.” I argue that this tethering entangles feminists in unnecessary epistemological questions, ones which import into feminist theory an impulse to sovereignty and totalizing thinking. The cost of this impulse is the reduction of alterity into an epistemological schema of difference, as well as an obscuring of the political practices by which women affirm political freedom and ethical responsibility. Navigating various feminist authors with the critical lens of Emmanuel Levinas, I attempt to recuperate and refigure skepticism as an ethical phenomenon (rather than simply an epistemological problem), one which can serve as an opening for innovative forms of feminist praxis that affirm, rather than cover over, the alterity of the Other. I conclude by specifying a form of praxis that exemplifies the figuring of skepticism as an ethical issue by turning towards the practice of “entrustment” articulated by the Milan Women’s Bookstore Collective.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 37
Keywords: Levinas, Skepticism, Feminist Theoryworking papers series
Date posted: December 8, 2010 ; Last revised: December 15, 2010
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