Some family scholars have begun to use the work of French phenomenologist Emmanuel Levinas in their study of familial relationships. Through an extensive examination of the phenomenology of our experience of others, Levinas concludes that our relation to the other is fundamentally grounded in an ethical responsibility for the other. Levinas uses a phenomenological approach to challenge most of the assumptions that underlie psychological and sociological theories of human relations, suggesting an alternative understanding of human experience as essentially moral. The implications of such a phenomenology are only beginning to be understood for the analysis of social life (Bauman 1993; Kunz 1998). Family scholars have introduced a Levinasian phenomenological approach to the study of parent-child relations (Knapp 1999), child development (Vandenberg 1999), intimacy (Beyers and Reber 1998; Williams and Gantt 1998), and family relationships (Knapp 2000).
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