"Raffoul provides a rich genealogy of concepts of responsibility from thinkers in the Continental tradition.... Recommended." —Choice
The Origins of Responsibilityby Francois Raffoul
François Raffoul approaches the concept of responsibility in a manner that is distinct from its traditional interpretation as accountability of the willful subject. Exploring responsibility in the works of Nietzsche, Sartre, Levinas, Heidegger, and Derrida, Raffoul identifies decisive moments in the development of the concept, retrieves its origins, and
François Raffoul approaches the concept of responsibility in a manner that is distinct from its traditional interpretation as accountability of the willful subject. Exploring responsibility in the works of Nietzsche, Sartre, Levinas, Heidegger, and Derrida, Raffoul identifies decisive moments in the development of the concept, retrieves its origins, and explores new reflections on it. For Raffoul, responsibility is less about a sovereign subject establishing a sphere of power and control than about exposure to an event that does not come from us and yet calls to us. These original and thoughtful investigations of the post-metaphysical senses of responsibility chart new directions for ethics in the continental tradition.
"Raffoul displays throughout considerable skills of reading and exegesis, and he has an important story to tell about the history of responsibility.... There is a great deal to admire in this book and one can only look forward to [his] future work." —Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews
"Raffoul shows that philosophers in the continental lineage have persistently concerned themselves with issues of responsibility and provided original ways to rethink the meaning of ethics, choice, freedom, accountability, and moral normativity." —Charles E. Scott, Vanderbilt University
"This landmark study of responsibility offers novel readings of existing theories from Kant to Levinas and Derrida while giving its own original view of what makes up responsible action. Written with unusual incisiveness, it contains bold insights into how and why human beings are capable of responsibility at every level of their lives." —Edward S. Casey, Stony Brook University
Approaching the issue of responsibility from a perspective outside the traditional debate between free will and determinism, Raffoul (Louisiana State Univ.) provides a rich genealogy of concepts of responsibility from thinkers in the Continental tradition. In eight chapters, this clearly argued book begins with Aristotle and moves historically to its conclusion with Derrida, encountering Kant, Nietzsche, Sartre, Levinas, and Heidegger along the way. The argument is framed primarily through Nietzsche's critique of traditional notions of responsibility that require a commitment to such concepts as causality, agency, will, and subjectivity. Raffoul argues that Nietzsche's critique opens the way for more recent philosophers to think ethics and responsibility anew. By exploring these developments, he underscores the notion of responsibility as central to Continental philosophies of ethics, albeit as completely reconceptualized in a way that problematizes the 'ethicality of ethics.' These accounts do not view ethics as a set of normative rules or an applied discipline but instead question the meaning of ethics as such. They also rethink responsibility in a postmetaphysical fashion that leaves behind the ideology of subjectivity and free will. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-level undergraduates through faculty/researchers. --ChoiceJ. Donohoe, University of West Georgia, December 2010
Meet the Author
François Raffoul is Professor of Philosophy at Louisiana State University. He is author of Heidegger and the Subject and is translator (with Andrew Mitchell) of Martin Heidegger's Four Seminars (IUP, 2003).
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