Sexual topologies in the Aristotelian cosmos: revisiting Irigaray’s physics of sexual difference

Continental Philosophy Review 43 (3):373-389 (2010)
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Abstract
Irigaray’s engagement with Aristotelian physics provides a specific diagnosis of women’s ontological and ethical situation under Western metaphysics: Women provide place and containership to men, but have no place of their own, rendering them uncontained and abyssal. She calls for a reconfiguration of this topological imaginary as a precondition for an ethics of sexual difference. This paper returns to Aristotelian cosmological texts to further investigate the topologies of sexual difference suggested there. In an analysis both psychoanalytic and phenomenological, the paper rigorously traces a teleological and oedipal narrative implicit in the structure of the Aristotelian cosmos, in which desire for the mother is superseded by love for the father. Further, the paper argues that this narrative is complicated by certain other elements in the Aristotelian text—aporias involving the notion of boundary and the relationship between space and time, the fallenness of the feminine, and the ineliminably aleatory qualities of matter. The paper concludes that such elements may provide material for disrupting this teleology of gender, opening onto not merely an ethics of sexual difference, but providing space and place for a proliferation of non-normative, queer, transgender and intersex modes of sexed and gendered subjectivity.
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Archival date: 2014-07-20
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2010-11-27

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