The Origins of Responsibility

The Origins of Responsibility

Fran├žois Raffoul
Distribution: World
Publication date: 3/23/2010
Format: paper 360 pages
6 x 9 x .8125
ISBN: 978-0-253-22173-5
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François Raffoul approaches the concept of responsibility in a manner that is distinct from its traditional interpretation as accountability of the willful subject. Exploring responsibility in the works of Nietzsche, Sartre, Levinas, Heidegger, and Derrida, Raffoul identifies decisive moments in the development of the concept, retrieves its origins, and explores new reflections on it. For Raffoul, responsibility is less about a sovereign subject establishing a sphere of power and control than about exposure to an event that does not come from us and yet calls to us. These original and thoughtful investigations of the post-metaphysical senses of responsibility chart new directions for ethics in the continental tradition.

Author Bio

François Raffoul is Professor of Philosophy at Louisiana State University. He is author of Heidegger and the Subject and is translator (with Andrew Mitchell) of Martin Heidegger's Four Seminars (IUP, 2003).


"Raffoul shows that philosophers in the continental lineage have persistently concerned themselves with issues of responsibility and provided original ways to rethink the meaning of ethics, choice, freedom, accountability, and moral normativity." —Charles E. Scott, Vanderbilt University

"This landmark study of responsibility offers novel readings of existing theories from Kant to Levinas and Derrida while giving its own original view of what makes up responsible action. Written with unusual incisiveness, it contains bold insights into how and why human beings are capable of responsibility at every level of their lives." —Edward S. Casey, Stony Brook University

"Raffoul provides a rich genealogy of concepts of responsibility from thinkers in the Continental tradition. . . . Recommended." —

"Raffoul displays throughout considerable skills of reading and exegesis, and he has an important story to tell about the history of responsibility. . . . There is a great deal to admire in this book and one can only look forward to [his] future work." —Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

"Raffoul is very persuasive in arguing . . . that Sartre, Heidegger, Levinas, and Derrida’s philosophies, even when apparently involved in other not immediately ethical pursuits – existentialism, fundamental ontology, metaphysics,deconstruction – contain a fundamentally ethical concern. . . . [A] very fine book." —Derrida Today

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Table of Contents

Introduction: The Origins of Responsibility
1. Aristotle and What Is “Up to Us”: Responsibility as Voluntariness
2. Responsibility as Absolute Spontaneity: Kant and Transcendental Freedom
3. The Genealogy of Responsibility: Nietzsche’s Deconstruction of Accountability
4. The Paradoxical Paroxysm of Responsibility: Sartre’s Hyperbolic Responsibility
5. For The Other: Levinas’ Reversal of Responsibility
6. Heidegger’s Originary Ethics
7. Heidegger and the Ontological Origins of Responsibility
8. Derrida and the Impossible Origins of Responsibility
Conclusion: The Future of Responsibility: The Impossible and the Event
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