“The fact that the aim of living well in a way encompasses the sense of justice is implied in the very notion of the other. The other is also other than the ‘you.’ Correlatively, justice extends further than face-to-face encounters.
Two assertions are involved here: according to the first, living well is not limited to interpersonal relations but extends to the life of institutions. Following the second, justice presents ethical features that are not contained in solicitude, essentially a requirement of equality. The institution as the point of application of justice and equality as the ethical content of the sense of justice are the two issues of the investigation into the third component of the ethical aim. From this twofold inquiry will result a new determination of the self, that of ‘each’: to each, his or her rights.
By ‘institution,’ we are to understand here the structure of living together as this belongs to a historical community-people, nation, region, and so forth-a structure irreducible to interpersonal relations and yet bound up with these in a remarkable sense which the notion of distribution will permit us later to clarify. What fundamentally characterizes the idea of institution is the bond to common mores and not that of constraining rules. In this, we are carried back to the ethos from which ethics takes its name. A felicitous manner of emphasizing the ethical primacy of living together over constraints related to judicial systems and to political organization is to mark, following Hannah Arendt, the gap separating power in common and domination. We recall that Max Weber, in his presentation of the major concepts of sociology at the beginning of Economy and Society, distinguished the political institution from all other institutions by the relation of domination, separating the governing from the governed. This relation marks at one and the same time a split in connection with power-in-common and a reference to violence, both of which belong to the moral plane…. More fundamental than the relation of domination is that of power-in-common. According to Arendt, power stems directly from the category of action as irreducible to those of labor and work: this category has a political significance, in the broad sense of the word, irreducible to the state, if one stresses, on the other hand, the condition of plurality and, on the other, action in concert” (Ricoeur 1994:194-195).
1994 Oneself as Another. Kathleen Blamey, trans. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press.
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