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other minds

Emmanuel Levinas (1906—1995)

Simone de Beauvoir (1908—1986) French existentialist philosopher, novelist, and feminist


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Term intended to circumscribe other human beings, and their differences from me (or us). The otherness of other people can be underplayed, leading to charges of privileging the self or selves from whom they are supposed to be not so different, or overplayed, leading unfortunately to just the same charge, as when women are thought of as failed men, orientals as failed Europeans, etc. Levinas insisted that the Other can never be an object of consciousness, but must be encountered ethically; Derrida wondered in turn whether putting the matter in those terms already implies a privileged status for the self or the home point of reference. See also other minds, private language, Verstehen.

Subjects: Arts and Humanities.

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