The Sobering Up of Oedipus: Levinas and the Trauma of Responsibility
Department or Administrative Unit
Philosophy and Religious Studies
Levinas's work persistently challenges the claim that the sovereignty of the ego is the foundation for ethics, a claim he attributes to the Greek philosophical tradition. This claim emerges in dominant accounts of responsibility, in which the agent's intentions define his or her culpability. However, in Oedipus Tyrannos Sophocles also attempts to undermine this strict pairing of responsibility and deliberate choice. Oedipus undergoes a fundamentally Levinasian narrative arc by moving from self-assured sovereignty, based on his ability to comprehend the world, to an awakening to responsibility. In this essay I examine the points of intersection and divergence between the tragic narrative of Oedipus and the traumatic subject in Levinas's work.
Coe, C. D. (2013). The Sobering Up of Oedipus: Levinas and the Trauma of Responsibility. Angelaki, 18(4), 5–21. https://doi.org/10.1080/0969725x.2013.869021