The Illusion of Intimacy: A Levinasian Critique of Evolutionary Psychology

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Abstract

While acknowledging the psychological experience of intimacy, evolutionary theory postulates proliferation as the underlying grounds for human relationships. Intimacy, according to evolutionary theory, is merely a psychological mechanism whereby sexual selection and parental investment are facilitated. Unfortunately, the assumption of an underlying evolutionary mechanism which governs human relationships is fraught with problematic consequences. Unlike the evolutionary understanding of intimacy, the philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas (1969) offers an alternative conceptualization in which human relationships themselves constitute the grounds of intimacy. This alternative conceptualization escapes the problematic consequences of evolutionary theory. Intimacy from this grounding is inextricably tied to the infinite obligation we take on in relation to others. Implications of this conceptualization are explored.

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