Levinas thinks of justice from the event of the Other, which appears and tears the self away from its interiority. The interiority of the self enjoying nourishment constitutes the economy as a Totality. The economic agent becomes oneself only through this questioning, which subjects him to a requirement of justice for the Other. What happens to the economy when the relationship with the Other is thought of with the radicality that is characteristic of Levinas’s philosophy? What are the limits of the theories of social justice under this perspective? This article aims to discuss the relevance of the theories of justice under Levinas’s assumptions and questions the possibility of economic justice.
In Adam Smith’s work there is a tension between a positive appraisal of the savage’s mental processes and morality and characterization of the first stage as a state of want and isolation to which the primitive society’s failure to evolve toward following stages is ascribed. I illustrate how Smith’s post-scepticism puts him in a position to better understand savages than most of his contemporaries and I reconstruct his view of the savage in terms of his own theory of the human mind. I explore the tensions in civilized society where the virtues of self-command are lost and those of humanity are widespread among groups different from those in power and where pointless search for wealth dominates. Finally, I discuss a tension between Smith’s view of the savage as proto-philosopher and his alternative view of the savage as proto-merchant.