E. Levinas「為他」倫理學及其德育蘊義

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Department od Education, NTNU


Most traditional western ethical theories emphasize the subjects of moral acts, in the meantime failing to consider the other side (the other person or object) of such acts. Traditional theories focus on the question of why moral subjects decide to perform or not perform certain moral acts, and how to judge what are morally “good” (“right,” “just”) actions. Thus the objects or “receivers” of moral actions have no place in these theories. In contrast, more recent (and “postmodern”) ethical theories in the west tend to focus on the “other” person, the recipient of a moral act, the one for the sake of whom it is performed. Among these new ethical thinkers, the French-Lithuanian philosopher Emmanuel Levinas has had a far-reaching influence. Levinas thinks that western philosophy has consistently suppressed “the other”; he takes the “for-the-other” as the core of his philosophy. He suggests that the traditional western idea of oneself as the essential “being” leads to intolerance; rather, we need to think first of the other (not the self), take responsibility for the other. Our responsibility for the other is our unavoidable duty. Levinas’ new approach to ethics has significant implications for moral education. The purpose of this paper is to explicate the ethical thought of Levinas, to discuss the significance and limits of his theory, and to elucidate its implications for education.