IRIGARAY SPECULUM OF THE OTHER WOMAN PDF
Carlon Robbins PHILS Reading Response 12/05/10 Irigaray: “Plato’s Hystera,” from Speculum of the Other Woman The Belgian-French feminist. Speculum de l’autre femme (; Speculum of the Other Woman), which was highly From Irigaray held a research position at the Centre National de la . Luce Irigaray 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 () and.
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Luce Irigaray is a prominent author in contemporary French feminism and Continental philosophy. She is an interdisciplinary thinker who works between philosophy, psychoanalysis, and linguistics.
Originally a student of the famous analyst Jacques Lacan, Irigaray’s departure from Lacan in Speculum of the Other Womanwhere she critiques the exclusion of women from both philosophy and psychoanalytic theory, earned her recognition as a leading feminist theorist and continental philosopher.
Her subsequent texts provide a comprehensive analysis and critique of the exclusion of women from the history of philosophy, psychoanalytic theory and structural linguistics.
Irigaray alleges that women have been traditionally associated with matter and nature to the expense of a female subject position. While women can become subjects if they assimilate to male subjectivity, a separate subject position for women does not exist. In addition to establishing this critique, Irigaray offers suggestions for altering the situation of women in Western culture. Mimesis, strategic essentialism, utopian ideals, and employing novel language, are but some of the methods central to changing contemporary culture.
Irigaray’s analysis of women’s exclusion from culture and her use of strategic essentialism have been enormously influential in contemporary feminist theory. Her work has generated productive discussions about how to define femininity and sexual difference, whether strategic essentialism should be employed, and assessing the risk involved in engaging categories historically used to oppress women.
Irigaray’s work extends beyond theory into practice. Irigaray has been actively engaged in the feminist movement in Italy. She has participated in several initiatives in Italy to implement a respect for sexual difference on a cultural and, in her most recent work, governmental level. Her contributions to feminist theory and continental philosophy are many and her complete works present her readers with a rewarding challenge to traditional conceptions of gender, self, and body.
In a interview with Margaret Whitford, Luce Irigaray specifically says that she does not like to be asked personal questions. She does not want opinions about her everyday life to interfere with interpretations of her ideas. Irigaray believes that entrance into intellectual discussions is a hard won battle for women and that reference to biographical material is one way in which women’s credibility is challenged.
It is no surprise that detailed biographical information about Irigaray is limited and that different accounts conflict.
What remains constant between accounts is that Luce Irigaray was born in Belgium in She holds two doctoral degrees-one in Philosophy and the other in Linguistics.
She is also a trained and practicing psychoanalyst. She has held a research post at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique de Paris since She is currently the Director of Research in Philosophy at the center, and also continues her private practice. Perhaps the most well known fact of Irigaray’s life-which Irigaray herself refers to in the opening of je, tu, nous -is her education at, and later expulsion from, the Ecole Freudienne de Paris Freudian School of Paris.
The Ecole Freudienne was founded by the famous psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan. Irigaray trained at the school in the sixties. Inshe published the thesis she wrote while studying at the school, Speculum, de l’autre femmetranslated into English as Speculum of the Other Woman. This thesis criticized-among philosophical topics-the phallocentrism of Freudian and Lacanian psychoanalysis. The publication of this thesis gained her recognition, but also negatively affected Irigaray’s career.
She was relieved of her teaching post at the University of Vincennes and was ostracized by the Lacanian community. In spite of these early hardships, Irigaray went on to become an influential and prolific author in contemporary feminist theory and continental philosophy. In addition to her intellectual accomplishments, Irigaray is committed to active participation in the women’s movement in both France and internationally-especially in Italy.
Several of her later texts are dedicated to her work in the women’s movement of Italy. She is still actively researching and publishing. Irigaray argues that, since ancient times, mothers have been associated with nature and unthinking matter.
Further, Irigaray believes that all women have historically been associated with the role of “mother” such that, whether or not a woman is a mother, her identity is always defined according to that role. This is in contrast to men who are associated with culture and subjectivity. While excluded from culture and subjectivity, women serve as their unacknowledged support.
In other words, while women are not considered full subjects, society itself could not function without their contributions. Irigaray ultimately states that Western culture itself is founded upon a primary sacrifice of the mother, and all women through her.
Based on this analysis, Irigaray says that sexual difference does not exist. True sexual difference would require that men and women are equally able to achieve subjectivity. As is, Irigaray believes that men are subjects e. Only one form of subjectivity exists in Western culture and it is male.
While Irigaray is influenced by both psychoanalytic theory and philosophy, she identifies them both as influential discourses that exclude women from a social existence as mature subjects.
Irigaray: “Plato’s Hystera,” from Speculum of the Other Woman | Carlon Robbins –
In many of her texts, Irigaray seeks to unveil how both psychoanalytic theory and philosophy exclude women from a genuine social existence as autonomous subjects, and relegate women to the realm of inert, lifeless, inessential matter. With this critique in place, Irigaray suggests how women can begin to reconfigure their identity such that one sex does not exist at the expense of the other.
However, she is unwilling to definitively state what that new identity should be like. Irigaray refrains from prescribing a new identity because she wants women to determine for themselves how they want to be defined. While both philosophy and psychoanalytic theory are her targets, Irigaray identifies philosophy as the master discourse.
Irigaray’s reasons for this designation are revealed in Speculum of the Other Woman where she demonstrates how philosophy-since Ancient times-has articulated fundamental epistemological, ontological, and metaphysical truths from a male perspective that excludes women. While she is not suggesting that philosophy is single-handedly responsible for the history of women’s oppression, she wants to emphasize that the similar type of exclusion manifest in both philosophy and psychoanalysis predates the birth of psychoanalysis.
As the companion discourse to philosophy, psychoanalysis plays a unique role. While Irigaray praises psychoanalysis for utilizing the method of analysis to reveal the plight of female subjectivity, she also thinks that it reinforces it.
Luce Irigaray (1932?—)
Freud attempts to explain female subjectivity and sexuality according to a male model. From this perspective, female subjectivity looks like a deformed or insufficiently developed form of male subjectivity.
Irigaray argues that if Freud had turned the tools of analysis onto his own discourse, then he would have seen that kther subjectivity cannot be understood through the lenses specculum a one-sex model. In other words, negative views of women exist because of theoretical bias-not because of nature.
Through her critiques of both philosophy and psychoanalytic theory, Irigaray argues that women need to attain a social existence separate from the role of mother.
However, this alone will not change the current state of affairs. For Irigaray is not suggesting that the social role of women will change if they merely step over the line of nature into culture.
Irigaray believes that true social change will occur only if society challenges its perception of nature as unthinking matter to be dominated and controlled.
Thus, while women must attain subjectivity, men must become more embodied. Irigaray argues that both men and women have to reconfigure their subjectivity so that they both understand themselves as belonging equally to nature otheg culture. Irigaray’s interdisciplinary interests in philosophy, psychoanalysis, and linguistics underscore that her work has more than one influence.
Two main discourses that maintain a strong presence throughout her work are psychoanalysis, with Sigmund Freud and Jacques Lacan as its representatives, and philosophy. Insofar as Lacanian psychoanalysis works out of a background in structural linguistics, both Lacan and Irigaray also focus on language. Irigaray engages with philosophy, psychoanalysis and linguistics in order to uncover the lack of true sexual difference in Western culture.
Irigaray states on the opening page of An Ethics of Sexual Difference that each age is defined by a philosophical issue that calls to be thoroughly examined-ours is sexual difference. Sexual difference is often associated with the anatomical differences between the sexes. However, Irigaray follows the French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan in understanding sexual difference as a difference that is assigned in language.
While Irigaray is critical of Lacan, she is influenced by Lacan’s interpretation of Freud’s theory of subject formation. Freud’s work has served as a starting irgiaray for diverse psychoanalytic theories such as drive theory, object relations theory, and ego psychology. Lacan interprets Freud’s work from a background in structural linguistics, philosophy, and, of course, psychoanalysis.
Of particular importance to Irigaray’s work is Lacan’s claim that there are two key moments in the formation of a child’s identity: Freud introduces the idea of an imaginary body in The Ego and the Idin the section of the same name, when he describes the ego self-consciousness as neither strictly a psychic phenomenon nor a bodily phenomenon. Freud believes that an ego is formed in reference to a body, such that the manner in which an infant understands his or her selfhood is inseparable from his or her bodily existence.
However, the body that womqn infant attributes to him or herself is not objectively understood-it is the mind’s understanding of the body. This means that a person’s tne of his or her own body is imbued with a degree of fantasy and imagination.
In his famous essay “The Mirror Stage as Formative of the I,” Lacan expands Freud’s comments on the bodily ego into a theory about imaginary anatomy. Lacan states that the first of two key moments in subject formation is the projection of an imaginary body.
This spedulum in the mirror stage at roughly six months. As a being who still lacks mobility and motor control, an infant who is placed in front of a mirror another person can serve here as well, typically the mother will identify with the unified, idealized image that is reflected back in the mirror.
While the image in the mirror does not match the infant’s experience, it is a key moment in the development of his or her ego. Rather than identify with him or herself as a helpless being, the child choose to identify with the idealized image of him or herself. Lacan believes that the element of fantasy and imagination involved in the identification with the mirror image marks the image as simultaneously representative and misrepresentative of the infant. While the body of the mirror stage is key to the infant’s identity, it is also only an interpretation of his or her biological existence.
In other words, according to Lacan, one’s understanding of one’s body occurs only in conjunction with an organization in language and image that begins in the mirror stage, and is further complicated by the next stage of ego formation-entrance into the Symbolic order. Irigaray agrees with Lacan that how we understand our biology is largely culturally influenced-thus does she accept the idea of an imaginary body.
Irigaray employs the Lacanian imaginary body in her discussions about Western culture’s bias against women. Irigaray argues that, like people, cultures project dominant imaginary schemes which then affect how that culture understands and defines itself.
According to Irigaray, in Western culture, the imaginary body which dominates on a cultural level is a male body. Irigaray thus argues that Western culture privileges identity, unity, tje sight-all of which she believes are associated with male anatomy.
She believes that fields such as philosophy, psychoanalysis, science and medicine are controlled by this imaginary. Three examples from her work illustrate her view. In Speculum of the Other WomanIrigaray addresses Freud’s claim in his essay “Femininity” that little girls are only little men. She argues that Freud could not understand women because he was influenced by the one-sex theory speculuj his time men exist and women are a variation of menand expanded his own, male experience of the world into a general theory applicable to all humans.
According to Irigaray, since Freud was unable to imagine another perspective, his reduction of women to male experience resulted in viewing women as defective men.
Irigaray argues that Lacan failed to diagnose the wo,an of his predecessor, Freud, and similarly understood the oyher especially language-in terms of a one-sex model of sexuality and subjectivity.