Animating Luce Irigaray’s oeuvre are two indissociable projects: the disruption of Western metaphysics and the thinking of sexual difference. The intersection of these two projects implies that any attempt to think through the meaning and significance of Irigaray’s notoriously fraught invocation of sexual difference must take seriously the way in which this invocation is itself always already inflected by her disruptive gesture. In this paper, I will attempt to elucidate one moment of this intersection by focusing on her critical engagement (...) with Heidegger. In L’oubli de l’air , Irigaray criticizes Heidegger’s interpretation of the principle of identity as instantiating the same neglect of sexual difference that has been inscribed throughout the history of Western metaphysics. Moreover, Irigaray identifies the vestigial traces of this metaphysical legacy in Heidegger’s commitments to phenomenology. My claim, however, is that if we turn to Derrida’s second Geschlecht essay in order to mediate between Irigaray and Heidegger, the coimplicative nature of their projects comes into focus: on one hand, Derrida identifies within Heidegger’s work an incipient articulation of the very notion of sexuate difference that, on Irigaray’s reading, Heidegger’s work requires but nonetheless elides; on the other hand, Derrida’s rereading of Heidegger’s phenomenological commitments corroborates the philosophical significance of Irigaray’s intervention by recontextualizing the parameters that delimit her invocation of sexuate difference. (shrink)
The essays in this volume seek to resituate the work of Simone de Beauvoir and Luce Irigaray both historically and in light of the demands of contemporary feminist theory by examining unexplored aspects of their thought. Authors also highlight the commonalties in thought between the two philosophers, articulating points of dialogue in logic, ethics, and politics.
Although sexual difference is widely regarded as the concept that lies at the center of Luce Irigaray's thought, its meaning and significance is highly contested. This dissensus, however, attests to more than merely the existence of a recalcitrant conceptual ambiguity. That is, Irigaray's discussion of sexual difference remains fraught not because she leaves this concept undefined but because the centrality of sexual difference in fact marks a complex and unstable nexus of phenomena that shift throughout her work. Consequently, if Irigaray (...) is indeed the preeminent thinker of sexual difference, this is not in virtue of her recurrent appeal to a monolithic, readily digestible concept but rather somehow despite the absence of precisely this gesture. In this paper, I will attempt to elucidate the peculiar preeminence of sexual difference in Irigaray's work by identifying her persistent, though largely unexamined, commitment to transcendental phenomenology. Indeed, I attempt to show that the complex of phenomena of sexual difference emerges in L'oubli de l'air and The Way of Love as a modulation of Heidegger's own revision of transcendental phenomenology. In this sense, the peculiar preeminence of sexual difference does not mark the centrality of a concept but Irigaray's amplification of this Heideggerian gesture. (shrink)