2010 Abstracts Stage 3

Ignoring the Other: an Enquiry into Levinasian Ethics and Child Abuse

Tom Morrison, 2010, Stage 3

For Levinas, the human being undergoes an ethical epiphany when it encounters the human Other. The subject, when faced by the Other, is commanded to respect it and care over it. A parent, when faced with the ethical presence of their newborn child, is called to rise to the responsibility and autonomy this human life demands…

16% of children experience serious maltreatment at the hands of their parents

The aim of this project is to explore ethical irresponsibility and the effects of abusive parenting. It shall argue that the experience of abuse distorts a child’s very structure of being. As such, the abuse victim’s understanding of themselves, their place in the world, and their relation to the Other is corrupted. This corruption can lead to difficulties in placing abuse within the construct of a coherent narrative identity. Similarly, it can effect a victim’s ability to appropriately relate to others as Other in later life.

It shall draw on texts from both Levinas’ philosophical discourse and cognitive research. To bring certain abstract concepts to life it shall introduce case studies of abuse victims.

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