Our proposal, studying the place of the stranger in Levinas’ thought, amounts rather to turn one’s self to that which the human has as most unsettling and somehow most deviant: his difference—which is at the same time unpredictable and inexhaustible.

If the evidence of daily life drags us to see plastic resemblances in the Other’s face and to see in the sufferings of one’s existence the possibility of a threat to the self, Levinas on the contrary observes throughout his work the significance of the difference that overcomes these aesthetic approaches and the concern for self-preservation. As a matter of fact, the doubt, the concern, and the making available of one’s self to the other, to which I can be subjected by surprise, are not based on the already seen and known but on that which disrupts what is expected and disturbs our points of reference. Alterity, precisely, foils predictions and comes back to the division between the possible and impossible, the border between the known and unknown. This alterity described by Levinas transforms our way of viewing by overturning acquired positions – the neighbor and the stranger do not look any longer like they can be separated. The paradoxical presence of the pair neighbor and stranger can therefore be found in any intersubjective relationship whatsoever: no matter the degree of proximity I nurture with an individual, this proximity is always permeated by the distance that difference imposes.

In Levinas’ texts, the shadow of the stranger often brings to mind those of the widow and the orphan. The stranger appears in Levinas not as the stranger according to visible, identity, bureaucratic criteria (those strangers to this land, this culture, this language) but beyond visibility, his strangeness lays on that which is elusive in the very nature of proximity: there where the identity documents seem to say everything, they do not say anything at all. The Other can even speak my own language without my listening.

The neighbor is at the same time the stranger, the ‘first comer’ [le premier venu], which I never know, and the familiar or relative, is the one who addresses himself to me personally. He is that one who is never there where we expect him to be and that one whose vulnerability reminds the subject of his own responsibility.

As topics that could structure the different workshops we propose: Philosophy of religion ; Political philosophy and philosophy of law ; The first comer [le premier venu] ; Art and images ; Human sciences.

Paper proposals should be less than 300 words in English or French (preferentially in Word format) and must specify the axis in which the proposal fits and whether the presentation would be pronounced in English or French. Materials should be prepared for blind review and sent by email to colloque.philo.toulouse@gmail.com before February 1st, 2016. The full text of the talk or at least an extended abstract of approved proposals  will have to be sent by June, 1st , 2016 to be included in the conference booklet.

Schedule : Deadline for submissions: February 29th, 2016 ; Replies from the Scientific Committee: April 15th, 2016 ; Online registration: May 1st, 2016 ; Deadline for full text / extended abstracts submissions: June 1st, 2016

For questions about the conference :colloque.philo.toulouse@gmail.com

More details on the conference website: nalssirel.wordpress.com