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Rachel Jones

ISBN: 978-0-745-63781-5 May 2013 Polity 296 Pages

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The work of French Philosopher Luce Irigaray has exerted a profound influence on feminist thinking of recent decades and provides a far-reaching challenge to western philosophy's entrenched patriarchal norms.

This book guides the reader through Irigaray's critical and creative transformation of western thought. Through detailed analysis of her most important text, Speculum of the Other Woman, Rachel Jones carefully examines Irigaray's transformative readings of such icons of the western tradition as Plato, Descartes, Kant and Hegel. She shows that these readings underpin Irigaray's claim that western philosophy has been dependent on the forgetting of both sexual difference and of our singular beginnings in birth. In response, Irigaray seeks to recover a positive account of sexual difference which would release woman from her traditional position as the 'other' of the subject and allow her to speak as a subject in her own right.

In a sensitive reading of Irigaray's work, Jones shows why this distinctively feminist project necessarily involves the transformation of the fundamental terms of western metaphysics. By foregrounding Irigaray's approach to questions of otherness and alterity, she concludes that, for Irigaray, cultivating an ethics of sexuate difference is the condition of ethical relations in general. Lucidly and persuasively written, this book will be an invaluable resource for students and scholars seeking to understand Irigaray's original contribution to philosophical and feminist thought.

Introduction: Towards a Sexuate Philosophy
1. Approaching Irigaray: Feminism, Philosophy, Feminist Philosophy
2. Re-visiting Plato's Cave: Orientation and Origins
3. The Way Out of the Cave: A Likely Story...
4. Woman as Other: Variations on an Old Theme
5. Freud, Lacan, and Speaking (as a) Woman
6. The Status of Sexuate Difference
7. An Ethics of Sexuate Difference
Conclusion: The Incalculable Being of Being Between
"The book is eloquent, well researched, and written by one of the sharpest feminist philosophers and brightest academic thinkers on the UK scene. It should in fact establish itself as a model for introductory philosophical texts. This is absolutely first-rate work – philosophy at its best."
Tina Chanter, DePaul University

"Rachel Jones provides an excellent introduction to Irigaray's thought which will benefit feminist philosophers and theorists as well as students. Jones gives a lucid and original account of central themes in Irigaray's work, such as the relation between matter and form, the nature of sexual difference, and the idea of a female subject position."
Alison Stone, Lancaster University

"This valuable and accessible book meets an urgent need for all those who have wrestled with the intricacies of Luce Irigaray's prose - or who have found the most important of her writings, Speculum of the Other Woman, simply too baffling. Written in an admirably clear style, Rachel Jones's book breaks new ground in showing why and how Irigaray's 'fling with the philosophers' still matters today."
Christine Battersby, University of Warwick

"This is an astonishing book in its depth and framing of Irigaray. It offers an important contribution to feminist
philosophy and has daring, bold, insightful claims that are not seen in other texts."
Breanne Fahs, Arizona State University

  • The first comprehensive introductory account of the work of leading feminist theorist Luce Irigaray
  • This highly accessible book carefully elucidates the philosophical underpinnings of Irigaray's work
  • Spans the full range of Irigaray's output, including sustained engagements with key texts such as Speculum of the Other Woman
  • This book will be essential reading for students and scholars in literary theory, continental philosophy, and across the humanities