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Crossover QueriesDwelling with Negatives, Embodying Philosophy's Others$
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Edith Wyschogrod

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780823226061

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: March 2011

DOI: 10.5422/fso/9780823226061.001.0001

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Incursions of Alterity

Incursions of Alterity

The Double Bind of Obligation

(p.236) 15 Incursions of Alterity
Crossover Queries

Edith Wyschogrod

Fordham University Press

This chapter shows that the double bind, the claim that no matter what one does one cannot win, not only plays a role in determining the development of schizophrenia, as Gregory Bateson maintains, but is intrinsic to the emergence of the moral life. It views the double bind as a prior condition for deciding that a contemplated act is evil and for the sense of obligation that enters into the avoidance or pursuit of ends that are deemed to be evil. It argues further that double binds arise not only in individual but also in sociohistorical contexts in which otherness is in conflict with collective rules. The route taken in support of these claims will, of necessity, be circuitous. It begins with Emmanuel Levinas's premise that ethics originates in alterity, in the otherness of the other person, whose very existence, as it impinges upon the self, is experienced as a proscription against exerting violence against that other.

Keywords:   double bind, schizophrenia, Gregory Bateson, moral life, evil, obligation, Emmanuel Levinas, alterity, otherness

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