The Seminar 2017

Introduction to the presentations of the participants in the 2017 seminar

We were a little group this year, notably because two applicants left at the last moment – one because of illness, the other because she did not obtain the grant she asked for participating. But the group was mixed and this has favoured the exchanges, contrary to that which is too often imagined and, obviously, depends on the quality of the persons. The themes which which were broached by the participants also favoured fruitful discussions: for example, affect and self-affection, touch and caress, how to reach peace and civil coexistence, dialogue between Eastern and Western cultures, enz. I asked the participants to write their little text for the website before leaving. All answered positively this request (except one who refused to give a text and also the reason of this refusal). This allows us to bear witness to the interesting work carried out during the 2017 seminar already at the end of July!

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Andrew Bevan (Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy Kingston University, London, UK)

My thesis is that a non-anthropocentric affect lies at the heart of the dynamics of materialization as the means by which space-time-matter relations are continually reconfigured. I thus seek a concept of affect separate from Heidegger’s conception of time as pure self-affection. As Irigaray has argued, the Western philosophical tradition links the feminine subject more with the body, and thus with space, whereas the masculine subject neglects the body for focusing on time. In a way, time is used to overcome the body. I ask whether ‘affect’ conceived solely according to time could be an example of how, as Irigaray argues in The Return, man ‘immolated affectivity, desire and even life itself to a mental mastery’. Read more…

Harry Bregazzi (University of Bristol, UK)

If an ethical relation with difference requires each to realize the limits of their own subjectivity, Luce Irigaray argues in Sharing the World that this can be achieved through encounters with the other. Such encounters can create an opening ‘in the horizon of a personal or collective world, which puts the limits of such a world into perspective’ (Sharing the World, 2008: 46). What is meant here by ‘horizon’? The horizon could be conceived as that which we inherit from the world into which we are born. Each human inherits some commonly accepted truths about the way things are, dependent on the culture in which they are brought up. To this extent, certain points of view and choices are predetermined. Whilst one might believe that they hold such perspectives freely, they do not realize the extent to which they have been shaped by the horizon they inherited. Irigaray has called this ‘standardization from below’ (Sharing the World, 2008: 65). Read more…

Steinunn Hreinsdóttir (University of Iceland, Iceland)

Luce Irigaray is one of the most original and critical thinkers of our time, and she is widely known for her work on sexuate difference in philosophy. She has been forceful in disclosing how Western philosophers and psychoanalysts have covered all over sexuate difference, implying that culture as such is monosexuate, phallogocentric, based on a masculine viewpoint, and on sameness as far as logic and objectivity. are concerned. The feminine subjectivity is then ignored, and it does not appear as an active player in the elaboration of culture, in particular of philosophy, but only as a mirror image of the masculine subject, which appears as a supposedly neutral, universal and undetermined subjectivity. In her texts and analyses Luce Irigaray brings in existence the unthought, the unspoken, and the unacknowledged – the other term of sexuate difference. Read more…

Ciara Merrick (University of Bristol, UK)

Based on everyday encounters in post-conflict societies, my PhD project refers to the philosophical thinking of Luce Irigaray to elaborate an alternative conception of peace from a micro-political level. I argue that Irigaray’s work provides three concepts for not only thinking about, but also moving in, the encounter: difference, breathing and sharing. At the heart of Irigaray’s philosophical thinking is the question of sexuate difference. The creation of the new and the invention of an otherwise require us to resort to new ontological foundations. Without facing an ontological challenge, without moving beyond a mere criticism of the violence of the planned appropriation structuring Western cultures, nothing new can happen. Rather, Western culture will confine itself to a process of fatal repetition (Irigaray, Je, Tu, Nous, 1993), and reaching peace will remain an empty rhetoric rather than a living reality. An alternative horizon must be created, and sexuate difference is that which can bring thought and energy for such a creation. Read more…

Judith Rifeser (University of Roehampton, UK)

In my work, I try to hold a dialogue with Luce Irigaray about her philosophical way of conceiving of the caress and its potential for practice-as-research in the field of feminist film phenomenology.

The purpose of my PhD research project is to explore Irigaray’s philosophy on touch and feminine subjectivity in films by women directors from across the world of the 2000s and in my own experimental film work through practice-as-research. My point of departure is Irigaray’s groundbreaking work on touch and the caress. My study focusses on the shift of emphasis from an oculocentric and logocentric investigation – for example, in Merleau-Ponty, Deleuze and Nancy’s theories – to Irigaray’s philosophical thinking of the caress. Read more…

Kang Yi (Beijing Foreign Languages University, China)

Luce Irigaray has become a leading thinker notably because of her theory of sexuate difference. Her thought is studied by European and Anglo-Saxon scholars for her deconstruction of a mono subjective Western philosophy and re-constructing philosophy on two differently sexed subjects. The oriental themes concerning sexuate difference theory have been brought into sociological, religious, literary, and artistic studies beyond the previous philosophical and linguistic study. However, there is a lack of comparative study between Luce Irigaray’s thought and Taoist notions. Read more…

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