Incursions of Alterity

Edith Wyschogrod

in Crossover Queries

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print June 2006 | ISBN: 9780823226061
Published online March 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823235148 | DOI:

Series: Perspectives in Continental Philosophy

Incursions of Alterity

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This chapter shows that the double bind, the claim that no matter what one does one cannot win, not only plays a role in determining the development of schizophrenia, as Gregory Bateson maintains, but is intrinsic to the emergence of the moral life. It views the double bind as a prior condition for deciding that a contemplated act is evil and for the sense of obligation that enters into the avoidance or pursuit of ends that are deemed to be evil. It argues further that double binds arise not only in individual but also in sociohistorical contexts in which otherness is in conflict with collective rules. The route taken in support of these claims will, of necessity, be circuitous. It begins with Emmanuel Levinas's premise that ethics originates in alterity, in the otherness of the other person, whose very existence, as it impinges upon the self, is experienced as a proscription against exerting violence against that other.

Keywords: double bind; schizophrenia; Gregory Bateson; moral life; evil; obligation; Emmanuel Levinas; alterity; otherness

Chapter.  4636 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Religion

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