Levinas and the Problem of Predation: From Fraternity to Kinship


In this paper, Levinas’s concept of fraternity is shown to rely upon an exclusion of beings deemed “faceless” and open for appropriation. By limiting ethics to humans, Levinas established nonhumans as that which could be given to the Other without questioning the justification of this appropriation. By looking at the use of kinship in recent ethnography, we find an alternative that posits nonhumans as valuable while maintaining the necessity of appropriation. Instead of solving the problem of appropriation by positing beings outside ethics, the kinship system shows us ways of establishing limits and allowances in a world that includes nonhuman Others.

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