In this reading a notion of the human is developed through an engagement with the work of French philosopher Emanuel Levinas. The argument is that, with the help of Levinas, it is possible for the idea of the human to be understood anew, for the notion to be ‘resaid’. This resaying of the human is performed in a critical appropriation of the philosophical tradition: Levinas’s work is shown not to be a new variation of the complacent ideology of humanism; the idea of the human is instead interpreted to be the bearer of the very movement of critique. This movement is articulated in terms of a transcendence of a discursive ‘economy of violence’. Critique does not establish a permanent position outside of violence, but is a movement that must constantly be renewed.
Here Levinas is offered as a modern thinker of particular relevance for contemporary discussions surrounding the nature both of the political and of Human Rights. In addition one finds a systematic analysis of the major works of Levinas, unraveling how a notion of the human develops from within his philosophy.
Levinas’s thought is placed alongside philosophical figures of his time, such as Heidegger, Sartre, Bataille, Lévi-Strauss, Althusser, Foucault and Derrida, as well as more recent political thinkers, for example, Alain Badiou, Giorgio Agamben and Jacques Rancière.