HomePHAVISMINDA Journalvol. 10 no. 1 (2011)

Solicitude in Friendship, Initiative, and Responsibility for the 'Fragile' Other

Ruby S. Suazo

Discipline: Social Science



In a society ravaged by poverty and underdevelopment, a hope for the privileged group to initiate genuine programs to alleviate the condition is prayed. The materialization of the said expectation, however, presupposes solicitude between the two groups. Solicitude is very basic as it expands the ethical life. From the value of self-confinement, the subject slowly recognizes the face of the other. Solicitude, the concrete care for the other as other and benevolent spontaneity, indicates the two parties’ awareness of the mutual suffering, of the fragility, especially of the mortality that they all share in common. This being the case, solicitude has a more fundamental character than obedience to duty, which character Ricoeur defines as benevolent spontaneity based on self-esteem. This disposition allows the benevolent and compassionate self to rectify the initial asymmetry involved in either receiving an injunction from a “master of justice” (Lévinas) or offering sympathy toward one who is suffering. Through this awareness, persons take the initiative to reach out to the other. Initiative, an intervention of the agent of action in the course of the world, an intervention which effectively causes changes in the world (Ricoeur, 1992) of the self and of the other has to be a product of mutual recognition. Initiative as a product of mutual recognition is also a product of dialogical exchange. The aim is a formulation of an otherness that is homogeneous.