School of Sociology and Social Policy

The Bauman Institute

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Ethics, Evil and the Other: Bauman, Lévinas, Badiou (Seminar Series)

A seminar series hosted by Roundhouse

The central place that Emmanuel Lévinas occupies in the development of Zygmunt Bauman’s thought after 1989 has often been noted. However, the degree to which Lévinas underpins Bauman’s ethical imagination has been significantly under-theorised and its consequences for his distinct approach to sociology often overlooked. Reading through Bauman’s first explicit engagement with the thought of Lévinas in 1989, we will first of all attempt to discover how this turn to Lévinas contributed to Bauman’s own ‘sociological theory of morality’ and where the strengths and weaknesses of this turn might lie. However, in order to understand the implications of this development more fully, in the following weeks we will be drawing on the work of both Lévinas himself, and one of Lévinas’ staunchest critics, Alain Badiou. This will allow us to situate Bauman’s thought within some wider debates concerning ethics, evil and the ‘primacy of the Other’.

This is the first in what will hopefully be a long and productive series of seminars hosted by Roundhouse. Working closely with the students on the MA programmes in the School of Sociology and Social Policy, our aim is to further investigate a number of themes and concepts touched upon in the modules studied across the School; opening them up to scrutiny, unpacking their conceptual strengths and limitations, as well as situating them within a wider context of social-theoretical reflection on contemporary life. The first of these draws on the ethics of Zygmunt Bauman, a social theorist discussed throughout one of the core modules from MA Social and Political Thought, Liquid Sociology. The seminar series will run alongside this module, however all are welcome!

February 25th, Tuesday 2014: 4-6pm, Worsley 9.64

Zygmunt Bauman (1989). ‘Towards a Sociological Theory of Morality’. In Modernity and the Holocaust. Cambridge: Polity.

March 4th, Tuesday 2014: 4-6pm, Worsley 9.64

Emmanuel Lévinas. (1998). ‘The Other, Utopia, Justice’. In Entre Nous. London: Continuum.  pp. 193-202.

March 11th, Tuesday 2014: 4-6pm, Worsley 9.64

Alain Badiou. (2001). ‘Does the Other Exist?’ In Ethics: An Essay on the Understanding of Evil. London: Verso. pp. 18-29.

(Please contact roundhouse@leeds.ac.uk if you wish to attend. PDF files of each week’s reading will be made available and will be sent to you via email).

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