This chapter proposes that relationships are not limited by our knowledge about each other. As I have argued in the previous chapter, our knowledge of others is fallible and finite. This, however, does not diminish our ability to relate and assume responsibility for them. To the contrary, accepting the finitude of knowledge and communicability allows for a deeper appreciation of responsibility towards others in our ethical thinking — a responsibility that is, in a sense, groundless and infinite. With this assertion, I aim to establish an approach to ethics that is not concerned with instituting or justifying a set of normative rules which would guide our decision-making processes. Instead, this chapter argues that a non-sovereign notion of the self necessitates a reformulation of our understanding of ethical responsibility. While concepts of the sovereign subject entail the understanding that the subject is accountable for its actions and their consequences, non-sovereignty undermines the possibility for such a ‘causal’ model of ethics. Ethical responsibility is then redefined as following from the relational character of the self and is not bound to any specific acts or decisions of the subject. Understanding ethics in terms of responsibility for others, then, is based on a notion of the subject as constituted by its relationship to the other.
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- Otherness and an Ethics of Responsibility
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