Though the distant Other, the faceless stranger becomes ever closer and more accessible through various technological mediations and social networks, we seem to grow increasingly disconnected from any possibility of what Levinas calls ‘proximity’. ‘Proximity’ – the face-to-face encounter with the other person – signals a traumatising indictment of the gravitational pull of our egoism rooted in what Spinoza referred to as our conatus essendi. Rather than individualistic self-actualisation, Levinas sees brotherhood as the fundamental presupposition of our shared humanity and as the foundation of freedom and equality. While rather a-ethical than immoral, it is our very conatus that seems to open the door to indifference, prejudice and hate. On the other hand, the possibility of ethical action, of a humane society, is something that Levinas attempts to account for by the help of a responsibility more fundamental than our ontological blueprint.
In No 2/2014 of FILOZOFIA in the summary of B. Hofmeyr’s contribution Is Facebook Effacing the Face? Reassessing Levinas’s Ethics in the Age of Social Connectivity, pp. 119, line 8 (print version): “[unethical]” should be “[a-ethical]”.
Facebook, Interface, Levinas, Proximity, Social connectivity, Technologically mediated encounters, The face