Our obligation is to make the state ethical â€“ the state is inevitability and the alternative to state ethics is the destruction of the otherSimmons 99 William Paul, current Associate Professor of Political Science at ASU, formerly at Bethany College in the Department of History and Political Science, â€œThe Third: Levinas' theoretical move from an-archical ethics to the realm of justice and politics,â€ Philosophy & Social Criticism November 1, 1999 vol. 25 no. 6
Since â€˜it is impossible to escape the Stateâ€™, 70 Levinas insists that the state be made as ethical as possible. The world of institutions and justice must be held in check by the an-archical responsibility for the Other. Levinas calls for both an-archy and justice. Alongside the an-archical responsibility for the Other there is a place for the realm of the said, which includes ontology, justice and politics. Levinasâ€™ thought is not apolitical as many have charged. His harsh critiques of the political realm refer to a politics unchecked by ethics. For example, in Totality and Inï¬nity, Levinas sees politics as antithetical to an ethics based on the Other. â€˜The art of foreseeing war and winning it by every means â€“ politics â€“ is henceforth enjoined as the very exercise of reason. Politics is opposed to morality, as philosophy to naÃ¯vetÃ©.â€™ 71 Politics unrestrained, by necessity, totalizes the Other by reducing him or her to abstract categories. Levinas will call for a politics that is founded on ethics and not on ontology. The state must be answerable to the an-archical relationship with the Other, it must strive to maintain the exteriority of the Other. Levinasian heteronomic political thought oscillates between the saying and the said, an-archy and justice, ethics and politics. The liberal state is the concrete manifestation of this oscillation. Levinas calls for a balance between the Greek and the Judaic traditions. Neither tradition should dominate. The fundamental contradiction of our situation (and perhaps of our condition) . . . that both the hierarchy taught by Athens and the abstract and slightly anarchical ethical individualism taught by Jerusalem are simultaneously necessary in order to suppress the violence.0020Each of these principles, left to itself, only hastens the contrary of what it wants to secure.