____Ethics of Eros__ sheds light on contemporary feminist discourse by questioning the basic distinctions and categories in feminist theory. Tina Chanter uses the work of Luce Irigaray as the focus for a critique of French and Anglo-American feminism as it is articulated in the debate over essentialism. While these two branches of feminism represent opposing views, Chanter advocates a productive exchange between the two.
This volume of essays, all but one previously unpublished, investigates the question of Levinas’s relationship to feminist thought. Levinas, known as the philosopher of the Other, was famously portrayed by Simone de Beauvoir as a patriarchal thinker who denigrated women by viewing them as the paradigmatic Other. Reconsideration of the validity of this interpretation of Levinas and exploration of what more positively can be derived from his thought for feminism are two of this volume’s primary aims. Levinas breaks with Heidegger’s (...) phenomenology by understanding the ethical relation to the Other, the face-to-face, as exceeding the language of ontology. The ethical orientation of Levinas’s philosophy assumes a subject who lives in a world of enjoyment, a world that is made accessible through the dwelling. The feminine presence presides over this dwelling, and the feminine face represents the first welcome. How is this feminine face to be understood? Does it provide a model for the infinite obligation to the Other, or is it a proto-ethical relation? The essays in this volume investigate this dilemma. Contributors are Alison Ainley, Diane Brody, Catherine Chalier, Luce Irigaray, Claire Katz, Kelly Oliver, Diane Perpich, Stella Sandford, Sonya Sikka, and Ewa Ziarek. (shrink)
Examining Levinas's critique of the Heideggerian conception of temporality, this book shows how the notion of the feminine both enables and prohibits the most fertile territory of Levinas's thought. The author suggests that though Levinas's conception of subjectivity corrects some of the problems Heidegger's philosophy introduces, such as his failure to deal adequately with ethics, Levinas creates new stumbling blocks, notably the confining role he accords to the feminine. For Levinas, the feminine functions as that which facilitates but is excluded (...) from the ethical relation that he sees as the pinnacle of philosophy. Showing that the feminine is a strategic part of Levinas's philosophy, but one that was not thought through by him, the author suggests that his failure to solidly place the feminine in his thinking is structurally consonant with his conceptual separation of politics from ethics. (shrink)
Examining Levinas’s critique of the Heideggerian conception of temporality, this book shows how the notion of the feminine both enables and prohibits the most fertile territory of Levinas’s thought. According to Heidegger, the traditional notion of time, which stretches from Aristotle to Bergson, is incoherent because it rests on an inability to think together two assumptions: that the present is the most real aspect of time, and that the scientific model of time is infinite, continuous, and constituted by a series (...) of more or less identical now-points. For Heidegger, this contradiction, which privileges the present and thinks of time as ongoing, derives from a confusion about Being. He suggests that it is not the present but the future that is the primordial ecstasis of temporality. For Heidegger, death provides an orientation for our authentic temporal understanding. Levinas agrees with Heidegger that mortality is much more significant than previous philosophers of time have acknowledged, but for Levinas, it is not my death, but the death of the other that determines our understanding of time. He is critical of Heidegger’s tendency to collapse the ecstases of temporality into one another, and seeks to move away from what he sees as a totalizing view of time. Levinas wants to rehabilitate the unique character of the instant, or present, without sacrificing its internal dynamic to the onward progression of the future, and without neglecting the burdens of the past that history visits upon us. The author suggests that though Levinas’s conception of subjectivity corrects some of the problems Heidegger’s philosophy introduces, such as his failure to deal adequately with ethics, Levinas creates new stumbling blocks, notably the confining role he accords to the feminine. For Levinas, the feminine functions as that which facilitates but is excluded from the ethical relation that he sees as the pinnacle of philosophy. Showing that the feminine is a strategic part of Levinas’s philosophy, but one that was not thought through by him, the author suggests that his failure to solidly place the feminine in his thinking is structurally consonant with his conceptual separation of politics from ethics. (shrink)
The Picture of Abjection is an analysis of independent, contemporary, international film. Appropriating Kristeva's analysis of abjection, which she developed in the context of psychoanalytic theory to designate that which a subject rejects as a site of impurity, the book takes up the abject in order to illuminate various intersections of discrimination. The focus is on how race, gender, class, sexuality, ethnicity and nationality intersect with one another in ways that involve abjection. The argument is informed by a variety of (...) disciplines, including film theory, psychoanalysis, philosophy and gender theory. The aim of the book is to enhance understanding of how film can both engage in and ameliorate the ways forms of discrimination play off one another. (shrink)
A practicing psychoanalyst, Luce Irigaray is also a linguist and a philosopher. Irigaray's earliest book, Le Language des déments (1973), is a study of language and various forms of mental disturbance. It was out of her experience of psychoanalysis, both as analysand and analyst (see 1977, p. 62), that in 1974 Irigaray came to publish Speculum of the Other Woman, a book which takes as its trajectory, however, the history of Western philosophy from Plato to hegel (see Article 6). In (...) her reinterpretation of the Western philosophical tradition Irigaray identifies and excavates the repressed feminine that she sees as having been systematically sublimated by a logic of representation that functioned according to a monolithic economy geared towards masculinity. Her view is that “all Western discourse presents a certain isomorphism with the masculine sex: the privilege of unity, form of the self, of the visible, of the specularisable, of the erection” which “does not correspond to the female sex: there is not ‘a’ female sex” (1977, p. 64). Hence the title of her 1977 work This Sex Which is Not One, which can be read either as “the (female) sex that does not count as such within the masculine economy of the visible,” or as “the (female) sex that is not singular, but multiple” (see Jardine and Menke, 1991, p. 64). (shrink)
I consider Bromell’s critique of Rancière in the context of a discussion of the Black Lives Matter movement, focusing on taking a knee. I argue that Rancière’s analysis can shed light on the Black Lives Matter movement, while also agreeing with Bromell’s general argument that race blindness is characteristic of Ranciere’s work. In this spirit, I suggest that taking race seriously implies Rancière’s conception of humans as poetic beings requires revision.
This essay examines the connections between ignorance and abjection. Chanter relates Julia Kristeva's notion of abjection to the mechanisms of division found in feminist theory, race theory, film theory, and cultural theory. The neglect of the co-constitutive relationships among such categories as gender, race, and class produces abjection. If those categories are treated as separate parts of a person's identity that merely interlock or intermesh, they are rendered invisible and unknowable even in the very discourses about them. Race thus becomes (...) gender's unthought other, just as gender becomes the excluded other of race. Via an exploration of Margaret's Museum and Casablanca, the author shows why the various sexual, racial, and nationalist dynamics of the two films cannot be reduced to class or commodity fetishism, following Karl Marx, or psychoanalytic fetishism, following Sigmund Freud and Jacques Lacan. Whether they are crystallized in Marxist or Lacanian terms, fetishistic currencies of exchange are haunted by an imaginary populated by unthought, abject figures. Ejected from the systems of exchange consecrated as symbolic, fragmented, dislocated, diseased body parts inform and constitute meaning. (shrink)
Redistributing the sensible: the art of borders, maps, territories and bodies -- Politics as the interruption of inequality, and the police as the miscount -- Art as dissensus: moving beyond the ethical and representative regimes with the help of Kant and Hegel -- Framing and reframing Rancière's critical intervention: Foucault and Kant -- Form and matter -- Feminist art: disrupting and consolidating the police order.
Let me forego all the usual caveats about the vagueness of the term postmodern, our inability to determine what postmodern might mean without first undertaking an exhaustive review of modernism, and the synchrony and dissonance of postmodernity with the equally problematic term poststructuralist. I'll just assume that Derrida, Foucault, and Lacan are among the important thinkers to have influenced the feminist demand to rethink subjectivity, and that Luce Irigaray and Julia Kristeva are two of the most significant and interesting thinkers (...) to have inflected this demand in feminist directions in the French context. (shrink)
This chapter is organized around two central questions. First, if art is political, in what ways is it political? Most theorists who identify themselves in some way with feminist aesthetics agree that art is political, but differ in how they think it is political. The second question is, if we assert that art is political in some way—although we need to clarify in exactly what ways it is political—is there anything to be learned from those philosophers such as Immanuel Kant (...) who have argued for the universality of aesthetics? Feminists have produced a variety of answers to this question. In order to appreciate why and how the question has been answered so variously, we will need to understand something about the arguments that Kant put forward for the universality of aesthetics, and the relation between his view of aesthetic judgment and the other two domains of his critical philosophy, i.e. the metaphysical and the practical. We will also need to understand how and why, despite the severely problematic sexist, classist, and racist claims that Kant makes, his philosophy—in particular his aesthetics—remains a source of inspiration for some feminists and social-political philosophers. (shrink)
Irigaray raises the question of sexual difference. Yet there are moments at which Irigaray’s own pursuit of this question recapitulates the kind of universalism it is meant to combat. She remains ensconced in judgments that close down the attempt to think beyond sexual difference. The article pursues this line of thought particularly in relation to her figuring of Antigone, suggesting that there is a need to open up sexual difference so that it does not function as a universal discourse, but (...) is open to other kinds of difference, for example, racial difference. (shrink)
In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:Restless Affects and Democratic DoubtsA Response to Rachel Jones and Moira FradingerTina ChanterI would like to thank both Rachel Jones and Moira Fradinger for their generous, rigorous, careful, and typically thoughtful and thought-provoking responses to my work. Both are scholars for whom I have enormous respect.Jones follows a certain trajectory through my work, and I think she is absolutely right to articulate it as a dominant motif. Yet as (...) she also points out, in keeping with this very motif, to which I will return, in identifying this as a thematic strand she is at risk of suppressing other tracks that might have been mapped out. Let me begin, then, by taking up the invitation she thereby offers, by briefly indicating another path through my work as I see it, articulated less through theoretical inflection, less schematically, a path that maps itself by way of affective sites of investiture. So much of our theoretical enquiry is undergirded by affective attachments, created by the accidents of history—where, when, and in what circumstances we were born—through the contingent experiences we happen to have had and the pedagogical influences to which we happened to have been exposed, to the particular wounds life inflicts upon us, and to the particular happiness or solace it grants us, to our friendships, to those we have loved and to those we come to love.I embrace Fradinger’s suggestion that I am something of a radical democrat. So too the quasi-Levinasian sense of the necessity to be open to relationality and answerable to the interlocutor resonates with me, the difficult work of being called to account for what I would call the imaginary (rather than the representations) to which one finds oneself perhaps unconsciously beholden. [End Page 158] Indeed it is this difficult work to which Jones and Fradinger call me, with their challenging and apposite questions, not all of which admit of ready answers.My own affective genealogies are intimately bound up with the good old British class system as well as with the familial. No matter how adept I might be at deconstructing texts and ideas, no matter how well versed I might be in theory, when it comes to myself, so often, it seems, I find myself stuck, endlessly playing out the same story. I think this can be parsed out in terms of affective attachments; I do not think I am the only one to have discovered so many times that I have been profoundly wrong about profoundly important things.It is as if before we know it, we discover that we have played out a script—whether it is psychic, familial, or cultural—that has effectively locked us into a Hegelian master-slave narrative. Sometimes it is as if all any of us can ever do is robotically repeat such scenarios, as if we can never achieve anything beyond flipping the narrative, as if we cannot manage to intervene in the narrative itself, no matter how many theories we are armed with. It is as if, time and time again, we trundle along the same grooves that have been etched out for us by some narrative over which we cannot seem to achieve control. There is something automatic, perhaps unconscious, about these scripts to which we discover ourselves to have adhered, despite our best intentions, despite the fact that we know better, despite all our theoretical insights.It is as if your vision is habituated to a particular scenario, and no matter what you do, it simply keeps repeating itself, taking you by surprise each time. Then something happens, and the details start to compile themselves into another narrative, one that was there all the time, but that you didn’t, you couldn’t, wouldn’t allow yourself to see, to imagine. Only in retrospect do you begin to piece together the signs, to accord significance to the details you somehow managed to dismiss as insignificant, as failing to contribute any coherence or salience. You saw the individual details, but they didn’t add up to a compelling narrative. Or maybe you just didn’t want to be compelled by it... (shrink)
In Glas, Derrida focuses his attention on a question regarding the family, on the unintelligibility of familial love for which Hegel makes Antigone representative. The account of the emergence of self-consciousness in the family differs in several crucial ways from the standard account of how Hegelian self-consciousness is constituted in the master–slave dialectic. Most notably, the achievement of self-consciousness through familial love involves no risk of life, no struggle to the death, no conflict. While Derrida refrains from interrogating the relation (...) between the master–slave dialectic and sexual difference directly, he interrogates the peaceful recognition that Hegel says occurs between Polynices as brother and Antigone as sister. I explore the silences that punctuate Derrida's discussion of Antigone, especially his silence on Hegel's twofold elision of the master–slave dialectic with the husband–wife relation, and of Antigone with the figure of the wife. By symbolically marrying her off, Hegel subordinates Antigone to a symbolic husband. (shrink)
This chapter brings together the two sets of concerns, the first clustering around ethics and sexual difference, the second around race, slavery, and colonialism. The author suggests that, for Derrida, each of these concerns implicates the other, and to the extent that this is true, his reflections on Hegel's Antigone have not been read as carefully as they need to be. At the same time, the author says that Derrida has not read Sophocles as well or as closely as he (...) might have done. The claim is rather to read Hegel, who himself, as many have pointed out, could be called to account for not reading Sophocles closely, for not even wanting to do so, for appropriating Antigone only as a pretext, using her as fodder for his dialectical machine–and that is precisely the issue at stake here. (shrink)
This essay examines the connections between ignorance and abjection. Chanter relates Julia Kristeva's notion of abjection to the mechanisms of division found in feminist theory, race theory, film theory, and cultural theory. The neglect of the co-constitutive relationships among such categories as gender, race, and class produces abjection. If those categories are treated as separate parts of a persons identity that merely interlock or intermesh, they are rendered invisible and unknowable even in the very discourses about them. Race thus becomes (...) gender's unthought other, just as gender becomes the excluded other of race. Via an exploration of Margaret's Museum and Casablanca, the author shows why the various sexual, racial, and nationalist dynamics of the two films cannot be reduced to class or commodity fetishism, following Karl Marx, or psychoanalytic fetishism, following Sigmund Freud and Jacques Lacan. Whether they are crystallized in Marxist or Lacanian terms, fetishistic currencies of exchange are haunted by an imaginary populated by unthought, abject figures. Ejected from the systems of exchange consecrated as symbolic, fragmented, dislocated, diseased body parts inform and constitute meaning. (shrink)