Communication and Rhetorical Studies
McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts
Janie Harden Fritz
alterity, communication ethics, dialogue, postmodern ethics, response-ability, rhetoric
This project contends that hope for ethical communication in a postmodern age lies in the ability to rethink ethics in terms of "existential pathos." To that end, this study locates communicative responsibility in the responsive element of the self-other relation by relying primarily on the work of the twentieth-century Lithuanian-born French philosopher Emmanuel Levinas. I maintain that Levinas's disruption of the philosophical tradition informs a communication ethic comprised of dialectical, dialogical, and rhetorical modes of interpersonal interaction that are fundamentally rooted in an existential understanding of human striving. Further, I assert that these dialectical, dialogical and rhetorical components are best appreciated when Levinas is placed in dialogue with Kierkegaard, whose influence on existential phenomenology is undeniable, and whose recognition that pathos marks the essence of the human condition is indispensable to this project. Dialectic, dialogue and rhetoric are viewed here as praxis-oriented concepts that emerge in the context of a Levinas-Kierkegaard interplay that works to frame communicative responsibility as "response-ability." By looking at the ways that Levinas radically re-positions philosophical discourse about ethics, and placing those challenges in conversation with Kierkegaardian themes, this study seeks temporal answers to historically situated questions about the promise of ethical interpersonal interaction in a time of uncertainty.
Walter, B. (2014). Communication and Response-ability: Levinas and Kierkegaard in Conversation (Doctoral dissertation, Duquesne University). Retrieved from https://dsc.duq.edu/etd/1330