Ali Rattansi
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Postmodern ethics
Bauman’s Levinasian turn
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Bauman described his delighted discovery of Levinas's work as a 'Eureka' moment. Levinas's work was postmodern in the same sense that pervaded Bauman's sense of the postmodern. Levinas's ethical thinking attempted to go beyond the rationalism of Enlightenment and especially Kantian moral discourse. For Levinas, as for Bauman, modern, Enlightenment-derived morality was a matter of duty, of finding the right rules which could then be universally binding on ethical human behaviour; this was a deontological conception of morality. Levinasian thinking had another theme that undoubtedly attracted Bauman. Levinas was insistent that in properly ethical self-Other relations the Other should never be reduced to the Same; the Other's difference must always be respected. In Bauman an additional, Levinas-derived puzzlement is caused by his assertion that morality is not rationally deduced or socially produced, but is immanent in human co-existence.

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