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.
Van Dyk, Tricia Kay (Institute for Christian Studies, 2016-03)
This dissertation contends that North American culture is in the grip of a reductionism that neglects plurality while seeking after pseudo-universality and pseudoindividuality, exemplified by the apparently contradictory tendencies to take as normative what can be generalized and to deny universally applicable normativity. I pay special attention to gender stereotypes, in which the particular (individual) becomes irrelevant, ignored, or perceived as a threat unless it can be treated as part of the general (stereotype). I argue that philosophical fiction—and, in particular, young adult fiction— contributes to a principled plurality in both lived and academic philosophy. It does so through its imaginative power to enlarge perspectives, criticize from the margins, and galvanize readers to engage with injustice. I focus on young adult fiction because of its wide reach, relevance for ethical formation, and exceptional tendency to question stereotypical understandings of human existence. After explicating the distinction between lived and academic philosophy and situating my project in the larger conversation about fiction and philosophy, I argue for the ethical significance of philosophical interaction with story. In conversation with Martha C. Nussbaum and Hannah Arendt, I draw together three themes—the integrality of form and content, the ability of storytelling to act as critical thinking in context, and the key role of particularity in the context of plurality—in order to emphasize the need to approach fiction in its intrinsic plurality without losing the possibility of shared criteria. A causal model is insufficient in this regard. Drawing on Lambert Zuidervaart’s conception of imaginative disclosure, I show that art both suggests and requires interpretation and that fiction’s ethical contribution to philosophy needs to be understood as thoroughly hermeneutical. I settle on “narrative companionship,” a variation of Wayne C. Booth’s metaphor of stories as friends, as a helpful noncausal metaphor for interaction with fiction. Then I seek to demonstrate the fruitfulness of this metaphor, in contrast to academic philosophy’s traditional approaches to fiction as either a tool or an example, by commenting on several stories that have informed my own lived philosophy.
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