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Levinas’ ethics of alterity as a means to transcend psychoanalytic fundamentalism

Levinas’ ethics of alterity as a means to transcend psychoanalytic fundamentalism

The Jewish philosopher Emmanual Levinas [1906-1996] said “ethics begins in apprehending the face of the Other”. For Levinas the face-to-face encounter is iconic of the primordiacy of a relational context in which ethical responsibility based on doing justice to the alterity of another person is an ethical imperative. Alterity as a term derives etymologically from the Latin ‘alter’ meaning ‘other’. Alterity refers to more than recognition of difference. It is about an attitude of awe in the midst of the ineffable mystery of another human being. Levinas felt this ethical priority had been ignored by Western philosophy, which has prioritized “the Same” (le Même) over that which is different, the otherness of the Other (l’Autre). Levinas was acutely aware of the dangers of imposing the totalizing sameness of any given theory upon a particular human being. In psychoanalysis, we are sometimes in danger of imposing a requirement that to belong we must subscribe to the same model of therapy with little ability to be open to a different perspective, a form of pathological accommodation. If we are to take seriously relational and inter-subjective moves in psychoanalysis as a true two-person psychology open our hearts and minds to the other as they are, not as we would like them to be. In this paper Dr Pickering will apply Levinas’ ethics of alterity to clinical analytic practice. She will describe the developmental aspects of a capacity for alterity, drawing on case material. She apply the ethics of alterity to collegial relations within and across psychoanalytic schools.

Areas of Interest / Categories: ANZAP 2015

ANZAP 2015

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