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This article presents an examination of the political implications of Levinas' concept of hospitality (hospitalité). As described by Levinas, hospitality operates in two distinct realms, the ethical and the political. In the ethical realm, the self is morally compelled to welcome the individual stranger into the private space of the home. In the public realm, the self is politically obligated to welcome the whole of humanity into the public space of the homeland. However, since politics is violent and totalizing, the practice of political hospitality requires an ethical transformation of the public realm. For Levinas, such a transformation entails the creation of political and juridical institutions that are fraternalistic, monotheistic and messianic in nature. It is found that Levinas's hospitality ethic is compromised by the fraternalistic, monotheistic and messianic aspects of his political vision.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Political Science, Illinois Wesleyan University, PO Box 2900, Bloomington, IL 61702-2900, USA., Email: dgauthie@iwu.edu

Publication date: January 1, 2007

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