Sociality and money
Levinas, E., Bouchetoux, F. and Jones, C. (2007) Sociality and money. Business Ethics: A European Review, 16 (3). pp. 203-207. ISSN 1467-8608
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8608.2007.00492.x
This is a translation of ‘Socialité et argent’, a text by Emmanuel Levinas originally published in 1987. Levinas describes the emergence of money out of interhuman relations of exchange and the social relations – sociality – that result. While elsewhere he has presented sociality as ‘nonindifference to alterity’ it appears here as ‘proximity of the stranger’ and points to the tension between an economic system based on money and the basic human disposition to respond to the face of the other person. Money both encodes and effaces sociality, both designates and disguises social relations. It arises from the way that needs and interests are manifested in exchange relations, in what he calls the ‘interestedness’ of economic life. But interests are always already cut through by the fact that being is always ‘being with others’. Being is always ‘interbeing’. Interestedness is always confronted by disinterestedness, that is, by a sociality marked by the ‘goodness of giving’, attachment to and concern for the poverty of the other person. Levinas concludes with a discussion of sociality and justice, posing questions about the tension between the demand to respond to an Other immediately before me and at the same time to respond to the demands of an other Other (the third person) who also invites a response.