Gareth George

Gareth George


I graduated from the University of Leeds with a BA (hons) in Philosophy in 2001. Since then I have completed a PGCE in secondary education in 2007, and a result of this spent seven years as a teacher. Most of this time involved teaching GCSE and A-level in the areas of Religious Studies, Philosophy and Ethics. However for two years I worked with teachers in remote parts of Nepal facilitating their development of child-centred learning techniques. This experience of training and facilitating teachers was also complemented by other development work I worked in engaging with women’s empowerment groups in local villages, supporting them in building their own capacities to engage with the local political processes.

Research interests

The work of my PhD currently focuses on asking how the work of Emmanuel Levinas can affect the way we approach the political.  Particularly I am looking at how the ethical responsibility that the Other exerts upon us, most fundamentally through our always being in relations with others, can affect how we think of the political.  I focus this enquiry around the notion of sovereignty as it allows how we conceive of self-determination to be brought to the fore.   Doing so can then demonstrate that our self as we comprehend it is fundamentally dependent upon relations with an Other/others for its emergence in a developed sense.  This then means that our own determination calls us to confront how that determination is interwoven in our relations with others.

This approach provides the basis for my work to question how we might reconstitute sovereignty, given the pressure that Levinas’s ethical responsibility exerts on the political.  Drawing on sovereignty’s role as that which seeks to legitimate power, the work looks to incorporate another strand to sovereignty’s focus upon legitimacy by claiming that any notion of legitimacy should acknowledge our social relationality (as brought to the fore by Levinas).  This social relationality also inherently includes Levinas’s ethical responsibility to the Other, thus introducing a further condition for legitimacy to acknowledge this ethical imperative. Thus for any sovereignty to be able to legitimate that which its focus is upon, it should acknowledge our social relationality, and the ethical responsibility this brings, and so incorporate ways for these to be engaged with in its own formulation.  This direction of my work then enables an approach that emphasizes attendance to the Other to be emphasized, which continually seeks to work toward enabling the expression of each Other within the political process, as that which we communally construct together.

Further Areas Of Interest

Continental Philosophy and the Phenomenological tradition hold a particular interest for me.  Specifically in how they, and the wider sphere of philosophy, can be brought to engage with the practical political sphere and the conceptions that people form which feed into this.  Particular thinkers that I am currently focused upon are Emmanuel Levinas, Jacques Derrida and Hannah Arendt.

Research groups and institutes

  • Centre for Contemporary Political Theory