chapter  13
Pedagogy with Empty Hands: Levinas, Education, and the Question of Being Human
ByGERT J. J. BIESTA
Pages 13

What does it mean to be human? What is the defi nition of humanity? What is the measure of humanity? These are age-old questions with which philosophers have occupied themselves ever since they turned their gaze away from the natural world toward the human being itself. To say that these are questions with which philosophers have occupied themselves is not to say that they are merely theoretical questions. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is one example of the way in which a particular defi nition of what it means to be human has had wide-ranging practical ramifi cations. The advancement of life sciences and life technologies in the twentieth century, which has made it possible to intervene in the creation and termination of human life in unprecedented ways, is another example which shows that questions about what it means to be human can literally be a matter of life and death.