Le Flair Animal: Levinas and the Possibility of Animal Friendship

PhaenEx 2 (2):216-238 (2007)
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In Otherwise than Being, Levinas writes that the alterity of the Other escapes “le flair animal,” or the animal’s sense of smell. This paper puts pressure on the strong human-animal distinction that Levinas makes by considering the possibility that, while non-human animals may not respond to the alterity of the Other in the way that Levinas describes as responsibility, animal sensibility plays a key role in a relation to Others that Levinas does not discuss at length: friendship. This approach to friendship addresses a gap in Levinas’ work between the absolute Other for whom I am responsible and the “brother” who is my political equal.
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