Gestures of neighbor-love: Literature, philosophy, and givenness

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

This article explores the literary, philosophical, and phenomenological dimensions of neighbor-love. Phenomenologically speaking, neighborly love must be given, that is, it must be given voluntarily through attitudes, actions, or gestures. But whom do we actually acknowledge as our neighbor, and why? Adopting a comparative literary approach, this paper argues that literature is not philosophy's adversary but its creative interlocutor: Ilse Aichinger's poem “Foundling” transcends anthropocentric perspectives, presenting the Neighbor as a being beyond denomination by translating it from human to animal. Doris Lessing's novel The Diary of a Good Neighbour depicts the unpredictable and accidental nature of encounters with the Neighbor, leaving no room for personal choice. Ultimately, Amélie Nothomb's Les catilinaires illustrates how the Neighbor can be a persistent annoyance that both irritates and resists systematic thinking. These literary works outline a nuanced poetics of neighbor-love and givenness that extends beyond any anthropological, theological, or religio-ethical concept.
Original languageEnglish
JournalOrbis Litterarum
Pages (from-to)1-16
Publication statusPublished - 7 Mar 2024

    Research areas

  • Faculty of Humanities - Comparative Literature, Phenomenology, Ethics, Givenness, Neighborhood, Neighbor, Neighbor-Love

ID: 384659758