Revista Portuguesa de Filosofia 77 (2-3):715-732 (2021)

In the midst of a pandemic, what does it mean to see the Other as Other and not as a carrier of the virus? I argue that in seeking a Levinasian response to the pandemic, we must be mindful of the implications of the mechanisms of surveillance and control that, presented as ways to protect the Other, operate by controlling the Other and rendering our relation to the Other increasingly impersonal. Subjected to these mechanisms, the Other becomes a dangerous entity that must be controlled, and the state that deploys them comes increasingly to mediate the relation between self and Other. The more we rely on such mechanisms for protection, the easier it becomes to regard the Other not as one who summons me to an infinite responsibility but as a vector of disease. Despite all the differences between Levinas’s and Foucault’s approaches, reading them in conversation shows that the control and surveillance of the population functions within a discourse that medicalizes and objectifies the Other in favor of the centralizing power that uses those technologies. In defiance of Levinas’s warning against imposing a narrative on the Other’s suffering, this discourse coopts that suffering as a justification for biopower.
Keywords biopower, Covid-19, disease, ethics, Foucault, Levinas, SARS-CoV-2, surveillance
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.17990/rpf/2021_77_2_0715
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Metaphysics and Ethics: Levinas, Clarke, and Maritain.Thomas L. Gwozdz - 2010 - International Philosophical Quarterly 50 (4):489-500.
Girard and Levinas, Cain and Abel, Mimesis and the Face.Joachim Duyndam - 2009 - Contagion: Journal of Violence, Mimesis, and Culture 15:237-248.
An Other Face of Ethics in Levinas.Barbara Jane Davy - 2007 - Ethics and the Environment 12 (1):39-66.
The Primary of Ethics Upon Philosophy.Mohammad Asghari - 2012 - Journal of Philosophical Investigations at University of Tabriz 6 (10):24-41.
Emmanuel Levinas's Face-to-Face Ethics: Taking the Other Seriously.Hwa Shin Lee - 2004 - Dissertation, State University of New York at Binghamton
The Ethics of Emmanuel Levinas.Diane Perpich - 2008 - Stanford University Press.


Added to PP index

Total views
68 ( #167,190 of 2,499,690 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
30 ( #29,219 of 2,499,690 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes