An Ethics of Concrete Others: An Ethics for the Vulnerable in a Globalizing World

Hochul Kwak


This article deals with an ethics of concrete others as an appropriate ethics for the vulnerable in a globalizing world. The concept of concrete others is based on the Levinasian concept of the other in that it accepts the transcendental dimension of others; however, the concept of concrete others is different from the concept of the other because it emphasizes immanent dimensions of human beings and their multiple differences. Because of a globalizing world which makes different vulnerabilities more visible, I contend that the vulnerable need to be framed as concrete others rather than the other. There are different ethics which try to address vulnerabilities of concrete others. An ethics of the multitude betrays its exclusive concern for the economic dimension of the vulnerable while it shows little attention to cultural and political vulnerabilities of others. An ethics of diff?rance, although its emphasis is on concrete difference, betrays limitations in recognizing and addressing inequality behind diverse differences of the vulnerable. An ethics of concrete others, which emphasizes both transcendental dimension and immanent dimension of concrete others, promotes both difference and equality of concrete others through equality that is substantially conducive to protection and promotion of difference.


Difference, differance, equality, the other, others, concrete others, oppression, domination.

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