Teaching Philosophy 1 (Online First):1-25 (2021)

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Nathan Eric Dickman
University of The Ozarks
Abstract
I develop Levinas’s analysis of “proximity” to explain how successful faceless class dialogues are possible despite physical social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. I first examine features of Levinas’s notion of proximity within his idiosyncratic approach to “ethics.” Second, I turn to Levinas’s examination of intentionality and questioning in relation to the hermeneutic priority of questioning. Third, I detail some successes and failures in attempts to embody Levinasian proximity in online or masked discussions with students. I draw out contrasts between experiences at two different institutions as well as between curricular and extracurricular experiences. I do this to expose my own vulnerability in this essay itself. Given pandemic conditions as well as Levinas’s theory of proximity, I found that many masked or virtual class discussions—but especially extracurricular group discussions, such as a philosophy club and the Black Student Union meetings—maintained a closeness of community despite social distancing.
Keywords Levinas  pandemic pedagogy  dialogue  proximity
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