“The Ethical Subject of Affective Culture” by Dave Boothroyd – Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Radical Media Forum presents:

“The Ethical Subject of Affective Culture” by Dave Boothroyd – Wednesday,
March 21, 5:30 RHB 142 (Richard Hogarth Building, Goldsmiths).

The desire to develop a theoretical framework for securing the extension
of the ethical to the political has led to an increased and diverse
critical interest in the Emmanuel Levinas’ ethics of alterity. Appraisals
of his ethical philosophy and assessment of its value in relation to the
passage from the ethical to the political, however, often take the form of
insufficiently critical appropriations presenting, as Howard Caygill has
put it, ‘angelicised’ versions of the Levinasian thought of absolute
alterity and infinite responsibility. Alternatively, Levinas is often read
as simply reiteratively insisting on the primacy of the ethical whilst
casting the political as its destruction. I seek to avoid this dichotomy
altogether by taking an entirely different approach to the crucial
Levinasian theme of the substantive materiality of the ethical Subject and
by focussing on Levinas’ radicalisation of empiricism; reading this
‘positively’ (contra Derrida) as a crucial dimension of Levinas’ account
of ethics as arising out of the vulnerability of the ‘I’. From this
perspective, we find Levinas to be closer to Deleuze on the ethical
Subject than has previously been acknowledged. They each consider
philosophy/thought to begin as an existential practice of
‘experimentation’ and subscribe to a philosophical principle of
‘transcendence within immanence’.

I approach this theme by analysing their respective anti-Hegelianisms and
how these relate to the sovereignty of the Subject, and by examining the
role Levinas’ radical empiricism plays in his account of the material
accomplishment of the ethical Subject through ‘separation’. This approach
brings to the fore the ethico-political significance of his thinking the
absolute Other always as the ‘other-in-me’. Finally I turn to how this
alternative approach to Levinas’ ethical Subject relates to contingent
situations, within which ethical demand may or may not arise and
responsibility may or may not be engendered, but which are, nonetheless,
necessarily moments of ‘decision’.


(previous mention of Boothroyd on this blog here)