Ethical Hermeneutics: Rationality in Enrique Dussel's Philosophy of Liberation

Ethical Hermeneutics: Rationality in Enrique Dussel's Philosophy of Liberation

Ethical Hermeneutics: Rationality in Enrique Dussel's Philosophy of Liberation

Ethical Hermeneutics: Rationality in Enrique Dussel's Philosophy of Liberation

Synopsis

The essence of Dussel's thought is presented through the concept of "ethical hermeneutics" which seeks to interpret reality from the viewpoint of what Emmanuel Levinas presents as the "other" -- those who are vanquished, forgotten, or excluded from existent socio-political or cultural systems. Barber traces Dussel's development toward Levinas' philosophy through his discussion of the Hegelian dialectic and through the stages of Dussel's own ethical theory.

Excerpt

Enrique Dussel's philosophy of liberation has gained worldwide prominence. He has published more than two hundred articles and more than forty-five books, principally in philosophy but also in history and theology, including three widely acclaimed volumes on Marx based on a thorough reading of the manuscripts underlying Capital. He has participated in a one-on-one dialogue with Paul Ricoeur, and he has met for several years with Karl-Otto Apel in what has come to be known as the North-South Dialogue. Critical, scholarly articles on his philosophy of liberation have appeared in Spanish, French, Portuguese, German, and English circles, and book-length studies of his corpus have recently appeared in Spanish and German. To my knowledge, this is the first fulllength book in English on the entirety of his philosophy.

One of the major tasks of this book, then, is to introduce Dussel's thought to an English-speaking audience, but such a presentation requires creative interpretation. In my opinion, the substance of Dussel's philosophy can be grasped through the idea of an "ethical hermeneutics" that seeks to interpret reality from the viewpoint of the "Other," as philosopher Emmanuel Levinas presents him or her. For Levinas, the category of the Other includes the poor, the stranger, the widow, or the orphan of the Jewish scriptures as well as contemporary analogates--those who are vanquished, forgotten, or excluded in any way from existing sociopolitical or cultural systems ("totalities," in Levinas's terminology). To substantiate this interpretation, I trace Dussel's development toward Levinas's philosophy through his early anthropological writings, his discussion of the Hegelian dialectic, and, finally, the stages of his own ethical theory. Dussel originally sought to overcome the ethics of modernity through a Heideggerian version of natural law ethics before passing on to Levinas, but his subsequent ethical hermeneutics continued to employ Hei-

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