• The Way of Love: Practicing an Irigarayan Ethic

      Olthuis, James H.; Merwe, W. L. van der; Halsema, J. M.; Crapo, Ruthanne SooHee Pierson; Institute for Christian Studies (Vrije Universiteit, 2016-02-17)
      This thesis defends the argument that Luce Irigaray's work on sexual difference from the Continental tradition provides a rich analysis of human subjectivity, ethical responsibility and well-being as citizens. This thesis pays specific attention to Irigaray’s work in relation to ecological feminism, animal welfare and religious pluralism in democratic societies. Her work is singular because, although it places the emphasis on sexual difference, resisting a contained definition of what it means to be a woman. Instead, the thesis highlights Irigaray’s ongoing process and ethical task to undertake an "intermediate" by which men and women can interact in reciprocity and respect the way of love. The limit, or the negative of the sexes,forms an ethical boundary, and this thesis explores this limit with humans and non-humans. The thesis contends that the limit makes it possible to establish the right relationships between specific and limited selves in an economy of love, rather than between authoritative, independent or absolute subjects in an economy of mutual exchange. Her philosophy, this thesis contends, allows us to ask more fully how to live well so we can share the resources—such as water, air, healthy food—that promote well-being and meaningful work. Such resources provide us physically and spiritually with a good life. The demand for a good life is further extended to other non-human animals and environments. The dissertation concludes with the suggestion that Irigaray's politics of difference can help democratic societies themselves to respond to questions of inclusion, hospitality and respect for different people, particularly within an increasingly multinational and global world. The thesis suggests that Irigaray's work is all the more relevant and meaningful in that it offers a discourse by which we can respect differences, going beyond token gestures, and moves toward substantial protection of all.Irigaray's ethics and politics provide both secular and fundamental principles that are universal and that can be found in the bodies of people who breathe properly and in the kind of practices that we undertake to distribute the resources of human and non-human others. Her work allows us to materially investigate in inventive and imaginative ways and calls us to share our world with love and responsibility.