Levinas separates the (hu)man from the non(hu)man, using hunger, enjoyment and anxiety to illuminate their relationship


  • Angela Hirst University of Queensland


Levinas, Hunger, Nourishment, Enjoyment, Anxiety, Proximity, Ethics


This paper is part of my journey with Emmanuel Levinas on a dystopic path to the ethical encounter. For the journey, I agree to be Levinas#39;s human subject, to encounter his quot;otherquot;. And he agrees to traverse a path through my world, a world of food and eating. To ready me for the encounter, Levinas tells me the story of his ethics, narratively (we #39;journey#39; through it), and so this paper is unavoidably #39;story#39; too. To preface, then: The ethical encounter is a quot;face to facequot; encounter between a quot;humanquot; subject (me) and an quot;otherquot; (Totality and Infinity, 39). In my encountering the other face to face in the world of food, food production and eating, Levinas tells the story of the violences of my existence- of my #39;eating#39; of the world at the expense of the other. Face to face with the other, I cannot avoid my responsibility for the needs and suffering of the other. In quot;proximityquot; with the other, I am guilty for eating; in proximity, I respond by giving the other quot;bread from [my] mouthquot; (Otherwise than Being, 100). In this first part of the journey, I am hungry, and Levinas leads me through scenes replete with food and eating. He shows me how this world can satiate my needs, but how it will, inevitably and inextricably, leave me, a not-yet ethical human subject, vulnerable and exposed.

Author Biography

Angela Hirst, University of Queensland

angela hirst, 1. writer, researcher, scholar (esp. philosophy amp; architecture) 2. on~, lsquo;hirstrsquo;s work, in its frank engagement with and rigorous adherence to the subtleties of levinasrsquo;s words and moves, in its interdisciplinary nature, in its consistently interrogative stance (and therefore its intellectual generosity), and above all in its deeply ethical motivations and outcomes teaches me that my own close readings of levinas are not nearly close enoughhellip;.[the] work is richly suggestive, even in its smaller details. repeatedly, there are single sentences and turns of phrase that leap off the page, and that function as denser transfer points through which the many of the workrsquo;s major concerns and questions flow.rsquo; [from lsquo;dissertation examinationrsquo;, dr david clark, mcmaster university, ontario]. ~study, 1. doctorate of philosophy, lsquo;eating the other: levinasrsquo;s ethical encounterrsquo;, department of philosophy, university of queensland, brisbane (1999-2005). 2. bachelor of design studies (first class honours), department of architecture, university of queensland, brisbane (1994-1998).




How to Cite

Hirst, A. (2007). Levinas separates the (hu)man from the non(hu)man, using hunger, enjoyment and anxiety to illuminate their relationship. Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, 3(1), 159–190. Retrieved from http://cosmosandhistory.org/index.php/journal/article/view/59