Luce Irigaray

Last updated
Luce Irigaray
Born (1930-05-03) 3 May 1930 (age 88)
Nationality French
Alma mater Catholic University of Louvain
Era Contemporary philosophy
Region Western philosophy
School Continental philosophy
French feminism [1]
Notable ideas
"Women on the market" [2]

Luce Irigaray (born 3 May 1930) is a Belgian-born French feminist, philosopher, linguist, psycholinguist, psychoanalyst and cultural theorist. She is best known for her works Speculum of the Other Woman (1974) and This Sex Which Is Not One (1977). Presently, she is active in the Women's Movements in both France and Italy. [3]

Belgium Federal constitutional monarchy in Western Europe

Belgium, officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a country in Western Europe. It is bordered by the Netherlands to the north, Germany to the east, Luxembourg to the southeast, France to the southwest, and the North Sea to the northwest. It covers an area of 30,688 square kilometres (11,849 sq mi) and has a population of more than 11.4 million. The capital and largest city is Brussels; other major cities are Antwerp, Ghent, Charleroi and Liège.

France Republic with mainland in Europe and numerous oversea territories

France, officially the French Republic, is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. It is bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany to the northeast, Switzerland and Italy to the east, and Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. The country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres (248,573 sq mi) and a total population of 67.3 million. France, a sovereign state, is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lille and Nice.

Feminism is a range of political movements, ideologies, and social movements that share a common goal: to define, establish, and achieve the political, economic, personal, and social equality of the genders. This includes fighting gender stereotypes and seeking to establish educational and professional opportunities for women that are equal to those for men.

Contents

Education

Luce Irigaray received a bachelor's degree from the University of Louvain in 1954 and a master's degree from the same university in 1956 and taught at a high school in Brussels from 1956 to 1959.

Brussels Capital region of Belgium

Brussels, officially the Brussels-Capital Region, is a region of Belgium comprising 19 municipalities, including the City of Brussels, which is the capital of Belgium. The Brussels-Capital Region is located in the central portion of the country and is a part of both the French Community of Belgium and the Flemish Community, but is separate from the Flemish Region and the Walloon Region. Brussels is the most densely populated and the richest region in Belgium in terms of GDP per capita. It covers 161 km2 (62 sq mi), a relatively small area compared to the two other regions, and has a population of 1.2 million. The metropolitan area of Brussels counts over 2.1 million people, which makes it the largest in Belgium. It is also part of a large conurbation extending towards Ghent, Antwerp, Leuven and Walloon Brabant, home to over 5 million people.

In 1960 she moved to Paris to pursue a master's degree in Psychology from the University of Paris, which she earned in 1961, she also received a specialist diploma in Psychopathology from the school in 1962. In 1968, she received a doctorate in Linguistics from Paris X Nanterre. Her thesis was titled Approche psycholinguistique du langage des déments.

Paris Capital of France

Paris is the capital and most populous city of France, with an area of 105 square kilometres and an official estimated population of 2,140,526 residents as of 1 January 2019. Since the 17th century, Paris has been one of Europe's major centres of finance, diplomacy, commerce, fashion, science, and the arts.

University of Paris former university in Paris, France

The University of Paris, metonymically known as the Sorbonne, was a university in Paris, France, active 1150–1793, and 1806–1970.

Doctorate academic or professional degree

A doctorate or doctor's degree or doctoral degree, is an academic degree awarded by universities, derived from the ancient formalism licentia docendi In most countries, it is a research degree that qualifies the holder to teach at university level in the degree's field, or to work in a specific profession. There are a variety of names for doctoral degrees; the most common is the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), which is awarded in many different fields, ranging from the humanities to scientific disciplines.

She completed a PhD in Linguistics in 1968 from the University of Vincennes in Saint-Denis (University of Paris VIII). Her dissertation on speech patterns of subjects suffering from dementia became her first book, Le langage des déments, published in 1973. In 1974, she earned a second PhD in Philosophy.

In the 1960s, Irigaray started attending the psychoanalytic seminars of Jacques Lacan and joined the École Freudienne de Paris (Freudian School of Paris), directed by Lacan. She was expelled from this school in 1974 after the publication of her second doctoral thesis (doctorat d'État), Speculum of the Other Woman (Speculum: La fonction de la femme dans le discours philosophique, later retitled as Speculum: De l'autre femme), which received much criticism from both the Lacanian and Freudian schools of psychoanalysis. This criticism brought her recognition. But she was removed from her position as an instructor at the University of Vincennes as well as ostracized from the Lacanian community.

The École freudienne de Paris (EFP) was a French psychoanalytic professional body formed in 1964 by Jacques Lacan.

She held a research post at the Centre national de la recherche scientifique since 1964, where she is now a Director of Research in Philosophy. Her initial research focused on dementia patients, about whom she produced a study of the differences between the language of male and female patients.

Centre national de la recherche scientifique French research organisation

The French National Center for Scientific Research is the largest governmental research organisation in France and the largest fundamental science agency in Europe. In 2016, it employed 31,637 staff, including 11,137 tenured researchers, 13,415 engineers and technical staff, and 7,085 contractual workers. It is headquartered in Paris and has administrative offices in Brussels, Beijing, Tokyo, Singapore, Washington, D.C., Bonn, Moscow, Tunis, Johannesburg, Santiago de Chile, Israel, and New Delhi.

Noted also is that in her writings, Irigaray has stated a concern that an interest in her biography would affect the interpretation of her ideas as the entrance of women into intellectual discussions has often also included the challenging of women's point of view based on biographical material. Her most extensive autobiographical statements thus far are gathered in Through Vegetal Being (co-authored with Michael Marder). Overall, she maintains the belief that biographical details pertaining to her personal life hold the possibility to be used against her within the male dominated educational establishment as a tool to discredit her work. [4]

Works and publications

Her first major book Speculum of the Other Woman, based on her second dissertation, was published in 1974, In Speculum, Irigaray engages in close analyses of phallocentrism in Western philosophy and psychoanalytic theory, analyzing texts by Freud, Hegel, Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, and Kant. The book's most cited essay, "The Blind Spot of an Old Dream," critiques Freud's lecture on femininity.

In 1977, Irigaray published This Sex Which is Not One (Ce sexe qui n'en est pas un) which was subsequently translated into English with that title and published in 1985, along with Speculum. In addition to more commentary on psychoanalysis, including discussions of Lacan's work, This Sex Which is Not One also comments on political economy, drawing on structuralist writers such as Lévi-Strauss. For example, Irigaray argues that the phallic economy places women alongside signs and currency, since all forms of exchange are conducted exclusively between men. (See the essay "Women on the Market", which is Chapter Eight of This Sex Which Is Not One.) [5]

Irigaray draws upon Karl Marx’s theory of capital and commodities to claim that women are exchanged between men in the same way as any other commodity is. She argues that our entire society is predicated on this exchange of women. Her exchange value is determined by society, while her use value is her natural qualities. Thus, a woman’s self is divided between her use and exchange values, and she is only desired for the exchange value. This system creates three types of women: the mother, who is all use value; the virgin, who is all exchange value; and the prostitute, who embodies both use and exchange value. [6]

Within the same essay, "Women on the Market," Irigaray uses additional Marxist foundations to argue that women are in demand due to their perceived shortage and as a result, males seek "to have them all," or seek a surplus like the excess of commodity buying power, capital, that capitalists seek constantly.

Irigaray speculates thus that perhaps, "the way women are used matter less than their number." In this further analogy of women "on the market," understood through Marxist terms, Irigaray points out that women, like commodities, are moved between men based on their exchange value rather than just their use value, and the desire will always be surplus – making women almost seem like capital, in this case, to be accumulated. "As commodities, women are thus two things at once: utilitarian objects and bearers of value." [6]

Themes

Some of Irigaray's books are imaginary dialogues with significant contributors to Western philosophy, such as Nietzsche and Heidegger. However Irigaray also writes a significant body of work on Hegel, Descartes, Plato, Aristotle and Levinas, as well as Merleau-Ponty. She continued to conduct empirical studies about language in a variety of settings, researching the differences between the way men and women speak. This focus on sexual difference is the key characteristic of Irigaray's oeuvre, since she is seeking to provide a site from which a feminine language can eventuate.

Criticism

Many feminists criticize the perceived essentialist positions of Luce Irigaray. [7] However, there is much debate among scholars as to whether or not Irigaray's theory of sexual difference is, indeed, an essentialist one. The perception that Luce Irigaray's work is essentialist concentrates on her attention to sexual difference, taking this to constitute a rehearsal of heteronormative sexuality. As Helen Fielding states, the uneasiness among feminists about Irigaray’s discussion of masculinity and femininity does not so much reveal Irigaray’s heteronormative bias, but "arises out of an inherited cultural understanding [on the part of her critics] that posits nature as either unchanging organism or as matter that can be ordered, manipulated and inscribed upon. Hence the concern over essentialism is itself grounded in the binary thinking that preserves a hierarchy of...culture over nature." [8]

W. A. Borody has criticised Luce Irigaray's phallogocentric argument as misrepresenting the history of philosophies of "indeterminateness" in the West. Luce Irigaray's "black and white" claims that the masculine=determinateness and that the feminine=indeterminateness contain a degree of cultural and historical validity, but not when it is deployed to self-replicate a similar form of the gender-othering it originally sought to overcome. [9]

Alan Sokal and Jean Bricmont, in their book about postmodern authors abusing scientific concepts ( Fashionable Nonsense , 1997), consider Luce Irigaray naïve and clumsy when attempting to use hard-science terminology in her writings. They report examples of Irigaray thinking that Einstein was interested in "accelerations without electromagnetic reequilibrations" (a nonsense concept, page 107); confusing Special Relativity and General Relativity (page 107); arguing that E = mc² is a "sexist equation" because "it favors the speed of light over other [undefined, according to the authors] speeds that are vital for us" (page 109); messing up with[ clarification needed ] fluid mechanics (pages 110–116) as well as with the basics of mathematical logic (pages 117–120).

Selected bibliography

Books
Papers

See also

Notes

  1. Kelly Ives, Cixous, Irigaray, Kristeva: The Jouissance of French Feminism, Crescent Moon Publishing, 2016.
  2. Luce Irigaray, "Women on the Market", in: This Sex Which Is Not One, Cornell University Press, 1985, p. 170.
  3. http://www.iep.utm.edu/irigaray/
  4. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Luce-Irigaray
  5. ledpup. "Luce Irigaray, "Women on the Market" | caring labor: an archive". Caringlabor.wordpress.com. Retrieved 2015-05-17.
  6. 1 2 Irigaray, L. (1985) "Women on the Market." in Rivkin, J.; Ryan, M. (eds) (1998). Literary theory, an anthology. Malden, Mass: Blackwell. pp. 799–811. ISBN   9780631200291.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  7. Christine Delphy, L'Ennemi principal, tome 2 : Penser le genre (2001)
  8. Fielding, H. (2003). "Questioning nature: Irigaray, Heidegger and the potentiality of matter". Continental Philosophy Review. 36: 1–26. doi:10.1023/A:1025144306606.
  9. Wayne A. Borody (1998) pp. 3, 5 Figuring the Phallogocentric Argument with Respect to the Classical Greek Philosophical Tradition Nebula: A Netzine of the Arts and Science, Vol. 13 (pp. 1–27) <http://kenstange.com/nebula/feat013/feat013.html>.

Related Research Articles

Gender studies

Gender studies is a field for interdisciplinary study devoted to gender identity and gendered representation as central categories of analysis. This field includes women's studies, men's studies and queer studies. Sometimes, gender studies is offered together with study of sexuality.

Difference feminism or gender feminism holds that there are differences between men and women but that no value judgment can be placed upon them and both genders have equal moral status as persons.

Écriture féminine translates from the French as "women's writing". The theory, which unpacks the relationship between the cultural and psychological inscription of the female body and female difference in language and text, is a strain of feminist literary theory that originated in France in the early 1970s through the work of theorists including Hélène Cixous, Monique Wittig, Luce Irigaray, Chantal Chawaf, Catherine Clément, and Julia Kristeva and has subsequently been extended by writers such as psychoanalytic theorist Bracha Ettinger, who emerged in this field in the early 1990s.

Feminist theory is the extension of feminism into theoretical, fictional, or philosophical discourse. It aims to understand the nature of gender inequality. It examines women's and men's social roles, experiences, interests, chores, and feminist politics in a variety of fields, such as anthropology and sociology, communication, media studies, psychoanalysis, home economics, literature, education, and philosophy.

<i>Gender Trouble</i> Book by Judith Butler

Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity is a book by the philosopher Judith Butler, in which the author argues that gender is a kind of improvised performance. The work is influential in feminism, women's studies, and lesbian and gay studies, and has also enjoyed widespread popularity outside of traditional academic circles. Butler's ideas about gender came to be seen as foundational to queer theory and the advancing of dissident sexual practices during the 1990s.


Postmodern feminism is a mix of post structuralism, postmodernism, and French feminism. The goal of postmodern feminism is to destabilize the patriarchal norms entrenched in society that have sought to keep the voice of woman suppressed. Postmodern feminists seek to accomplish this goal through rejecting essentialism, philosophy, and universal truths in favor of embracing the differences that exist amongst women. Postmodern feminists reject these ideologies because they believe “there is no grand solution to rectify all situations.”

Gayle Rubin American cultural anthropologist, activist, and feminist

Gayle S. Rubin is an American cultural anthropologist best known as an activist and theorist of sex and gender politics. She has written on a range of subjects including feminism, sadomasochism, prostitution, pedophilia, pornography and lesbian literature, as well as anthropological studies and histories of sexual subcultures, especially focused in urban contexts. Her article "Thinking Sex" is widely regarded as a founding text of gay and lesbian studies, sexuality studies, and queer theory. She is an associate professor of anthropology, women's studies, and comparative literature at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Elizabeth Grosz is an Australian philosopher, feminist theorist, and professor working in the U.S. She is Jean Fox O'Barr Women's Studies Professor at Duke University. She has written on 20th-century French philosophers Jacques Lacan, Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Luce Irigaray and Gilles Deleuze, as well as on gender, sexuality, temporality, and Darwinian evolutionary theory.

Feminist sexology is an offshoot of traditional studies of sexology that focuses on the intersectionality of sex and gender in relation to the sexual lives of women. Sexology has a basis in psychoanalysis, specifically Freudian theory, which played a big role in early sexology. This reactionary field of feminist sexology seeks to be inclusive of experiences of sexuality and break down the problematic ideas that have been expressed by sexology in the past. Feminist sexology shares many principles with the overarching field of sexology; in particular, it does not try to prescribe a certain path or "normality" for women's sexuality, but only observe and note the different and varied ways in which women express their sexuality. It is a young field, but one that is growing rapidly.

Feminist views on the Oedipus complex

Feminists have long struggled with Sigmund Freud's classical model of gender and identity development and reality, which centers around the Oedipus complex. Freud's model, which became integral to orthodox psychoanalysis, suggests that because women lack the visible genitals of the male, they feel they are "missing" the most central characteristic necessary for gaining narcissistic value—therefore developing feelings of gender inequality and penis envy. In his late theory on the feminine, Freud recognized the early and long lasting libidinal attachment of the daughter to the mother during the pre-oedipal stages. Feminist psychoanalysts have confronted these ideas and reached different conclusions. Some generally agree with Freud's major outlines, modifying it through observations of the pre-Oedipal phase. Others reformulate Freud's theories more completely.

French post-structuralist feminism takes post-structuralism and combines it with feminist views and looks to see if a literary work has successfully used the process of mimesis on the image of the female. If successful, then a new image of a woman has been created by a woman for a woman, therefore it is not a biased opinion created by men. Along with Luce Irigaray and Julia Kristeva, Hélène Cixous is considered one of the mothers of poststructuralist feminist theory. Since the 1990s, these three together with Bracha Ettinger have considerably influenced French feminism and feminist psychoanalysis.

Antoinette Fouque was a psychoanalyst who was involved in the French women's liberation movement. She was the leader of one of the groups that originally formed the French Women's Liberation (MLF), and she later registered the trademark MLF specifically under her name. She helped found the "Éditions des femmes" as well as the first collection of audio-books in France, "Bibliothèque des voix". Her position in feminist theory was primarily essentialist, and heavily based in psychoanalysis.

Penis envy in Freudian psychoanalysis, the female psychosexual developmental stage when young girls experience anxiety upon realizing that they lack a penis; begins the transition from attachment to the mother to competition with the mother for the the father

Penis envy is a stage theorized by Sigmund Freud regarding female psychosexual development, in which young girls experience anxiety upon realization that they do not have a penis. Freud considered this realization a defining moment in a series of transitions toward a mature female sexuality and gender identity. In Freudian theory, the penis envy stage begins the transition from an attachment to the mother to competition with the mother for the attention, recognition and affection of the father. The parallel reaction of a boy's realization that women do not have a penis is castration anxiety.

Naomi Schor American academic

Naomi Schor was a noted literary critic and theorist. A pioneer of feminist theory for her generation, she is regarded as one of the foremost scholars of French literature and critical theory of her time. Naomi's younger sister is the artist and writer Mira Schor.

Gender essentialism is a concept used to examine the attribution of fixed, intrinsic, innate qualities to women and men. In this theory, there are certain universal, innate, biologically- or psychologically-based features of gender that are at the root of observed differences in the behavior of men and women. In Western civilization, it is suggested in writings going back to ancient Greece. With the advent of Christianity, the earlier Greek model was expressed in theological discussions as the doctrine that there are two distinct sexes, male and female created by God, and that individuals are immutably one or the other. This view remained essentially unchanged until the middle of the 19th century, until Darwin's publications on evolution. This changed the locus of the origin of the essential differences, in Sandra Bem's words, "from God's grand creation [to] its scientific equivalent: evolution's grand creation," but the belief in an immutable origin had not changed.

Gillian Catherine Gill is a Welsh-American writer and academic who specializes in biography. She is the author of Agatha Christie (1990), Mary Baker Eddy (1998), Nightingales: The Extraordinary Upbringing and Curious Life of Miss Florence Nightingale (2004), and We Two: Victoria and Albert, Rulers, Partners, Rivals (2009).

Neofeminism describes an emerging view of women as becoming empowered through the celebration of attributes perceived to be conventionally feminine, that is, it glorifies a womanly essence over claims to equality with men. It is a term that has come into use in the early 21st century to refer to a popular culture trend, what critics see as a type of "lipstick feminism" that confines women to stereotypical roles, while it erodes cultural freedoms women gained through the second-wave feminism of the 1960s and 1970s in particular.

Penelope Deutscher is a professor of philosophy at Northwestern University whose work focuses on French philosophy from the 20th and 21st centuries and gender theory. She has written four books dealing with subjects ranging from gender and feminism to the works of Jacques Derrida, Luce Irigaray, and Simone de Beauvoir. In 2002-3, Deutscher also served as the Lane Professor for the Humanities at the Alice Berline Kaplan Center for the Humanities at Northwestern University.

Alison Stone is a Professor of European Philosophy in the Department of Politics, Philosophy and Religion at Lancaster University, UK.

Wilhelmina Johanna Canters, known as Hanneke Canters, was a Dutch feminist philosopher and academic.