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Irigaray, Luce (1930–)

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-DE011-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved July 13, 2024, from

Article Summary

Luce Irigaray holds doctorates in both linguistics and philosophy, and has practised as a psychoanalyst for many years. Author of over twenty books, she has established a reputation as a pre-eminent theorist of sexual difference – a term she would prefer to ‘feminist’. The latter carries with it the history of feminism as a struggle for equality, whereas Irigaray sees herself more as a feminist of difference, emphasizing the need to differentiate women from men over and above the need to establish parity between the sexes.

Speculum de l’autre femme (1974) (Speculum of the Other Woman) (1985), the book that earned her international recognition, fuses philosophy with psychoanalysis, and employs a lyrical ‘mimesis’, or mimicry, that parodies and undercuts philosophical pretensions to universality. While adopting the standpoint of universality, objectivity and uniformity, the philosophical tradition in fact reflects a partial view of the world, one which is informed by those largely responsible for writing it: men. Without the material, maternal and nurturing succour provided by women as mothers and homemakers, men would not have had the freedom to reflect, the peace to think, or the time to write the philosophy that has shaped our culture. As such, women are suppressed and unacknowledged; femininity is the unthought ground of philosophy – philosophy’s other.

Citing this article:
Chanter, Tina. Irigaray, Luce (1930–), 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-DE011-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
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