How Levinas Can (and Cannot) Help Us with Political Apology in the Context of Systemic Racism
AbstractWhat is the structure of an apology? What is an apology supposed to achieve, and how do we know when it has achieved its purpose? These questions seem pretty straightforward when we are speaking of an apology as it is traditionally conceived, which considers an explicit action that I have performed toward another individual. But how does one apologize for one’s thrownness into systemic structures of inequality and violence—such as America’s long history of racism toward people of color? I call this here a “political apology,” which may take both national forms—such as Australia’s National “I’m Sorry Day”—or personal acts—such as when a white person might apologize to a friend who is a person of color for the persistence of anti-Black racism in America. This essay will consider Emmanuel Levinas’s work and how it relates to this notion of a political apology. In some respects, Levinas’s thought is profoundly constructive and useful; however, his ahistorical, asymmetrical account of intersubjectivity is inadequate to explain what an apology seeks to achieve on a substantial political level. For this, I believe we must articulate a Levinasian-inspired account of the self–other relation that more adequately takes into account both parties as well as the concrete situation in which the need for apology arises. View Full-Text
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Bahler, B. How Levinas Can (and Cannot) Help Us with Political Apology in the Context of Systemic Racism. Religions 2018, 9, 370.
Bahler B. How Levinas Can (and Cannot) Help Us with Political Apology in the Context of Systemic Racism. Religions. 2018; 9(11):370.Chicago/Turabian Style
Bahler, Brock. 2018. "How Levinas Can (and Cannot) Help Us with Political Apology in the Context of Systemic Racism." Religions 9, no. 11: 370.
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