Political Responsibility for a Globalised World

After Levinas' Humanism

The aim of this book is to reflect on the complex practice of responsibility within the context of a globalised world and contemporary means of action. Levinas' exploration of the ethical serves as point of entry and is shown to be seeking inter-cultural political relevance through engagement with the issues of postcoloniality and humanism. Yet, Levinas fails to realise the ethical implications of the inevitable instrumental mediation between ethical meaning and political practice. With recourse to Weber, Apel and Ricoeur, Ernst Wolff proposes a theory of strategic co-responsibility for the uncertain global context of practice.

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29 April 2011, 286 pages
ISBN: 978-3-8376-1694-1

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Ernst Wolff

Ernst Wolff, University of Pretoria, Südafrika, und Kulturwissenschaftliches Institut Essen, Deutschland

... with Ernst Wolff

1. »Books the world doesn't need.« Why is this not the case for your publication?

We live in a world that is characterised not only by people who repeatedly intervene in nefarious ways in the world of human doings. It would be incorrect to think that all of these people want to harm. Many of them consider their action the appropriate way to serve others. This book contains reflection about the value, but also the tragedy and possible danger of taking responsibility for the world in which people live, without proper reflection about what such responsibility entails.

2. Which novel points of view does your publication offer?

The book's contribution is situated at the intersection of two concerns: first, the intellectual affirmation of the value of human beings, second, the need to contextualise considerations regarding the ways in which to act to the advantage of other human beings. The result is a perspective on responsibility in which personal, individual responsibility gets its meaning first in the political relation to others. At the same time the inevitable strategic nature of responsible action is elucidated.

3. What is the significance of the subject in current debates?

In an academic milieu where the consideration for the other is rightly emphasized, but sometimes at the expense of considerable naivety, the theme of my book reflects the concern to confront ethics with political practice – not to evacuate ethical considerations, but to let them come to their right.

4. With whom would you most like to discuss your publication?

Since I don't realy expect any answers on my most pressing questions from the side of Levinasians, in this book I engaged in discussion with Weber, Apel and especially Ricoeur. By so doing, I hope to provoke debate with political philosophers, hermeneuticists and philosophers of action – or any social theorist who recognises the inevitability of collective and instrumental action.

5. Your publication in one sentence:

Responsibility involves the social and instrumental aspects of action, as ethical considerations are confronted with political reality.

Ernst Wolff
Book title
Political Responsibility for a Globalised World After Levinas' Humanism
transcript Verlag
kart., Klebebindung
Commodity Group
PHI019000 PHI034000 PHI005000
Release date
29 April 2011
Globalisierung, Politik, Mensch
Philosophy, Political Science, Cultural Studies, Postcolonial Studies
Responsibility, Humanism, Politics, Globalisation, Levinas, Human, Globalization, Political Philosophy, Philosophy of Culture, Ethics, Philosophy

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