Luce Irigaray

Luce Irigaray (born 1932 Belgium) is a French feminist, philosopher, linguist, psychoanalytic and cultural theorist. She is best known for her works Speculum of the Other Woman (1974) and This Sex Which Is Not One (1977).


Irigaray received a Master's Degree from the University of Louvain (Leuven) in 1955. She taught in a Brussels school from 1956-1959. She moved to France in the early 1960s. In 1961 she received a Master's Degree in psychology from the University of Paris. In 1962 she received a Diploma in Psychopathology. From 1962-1964 she worked for the Fonds National de la Recherche Scientifique (FNRS) in Belgium. She then began work as a research assistant at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) in Paris.

In the 1960s Irigaray participated in Jacques Lacan's psychoanalytic seminars. She trained as and became an analyst. In 1968 she received a Doctorate in Linguistics. From 1970-1974 she taught at the University of Vincennes. At this time Irigaray was a member of the École Freudienne de Paris (EFP), a school directed by Lacan. In 1969 she analysed Antoinette Fouque, a leader of the French women's movement.

Irigaray's second Doctorate thesis, "Speculum of the Other Woman," was closely followed by the termination of her employment at Vincennes University.

In the second semester of 1982, Irigaray held the chair in Philosophy at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam. Her research here resulted in the publication of An Ethics of Sexual Difference, establishing Irigaray as a major Continental philosopher.

Irigaray has conducted research since the 1980s at the Centre National de Recherche Scientifique in Paris on the difference between the language of women and the language of men. In 1986 she transferred from the Psychology Commission to the Philosophy Commission as the latter is her preferred discipline.

In December 2003, Luce Irigaray was awarded the degree of Doctor of Literature honoris causa by the University of London. From 2004-2006, Irigaray was a visiting professor in the department of Modern Languages at the University of Nottingham. As of 2007, she will be affiliated with the University of Liverpool.

Feminist conceptualizations

Irigaray is inspired by the psychoanalytic theories of Freud and Jacques Lacan, the philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas and the deconstruction of Jacques Derrida. Her work aims to reveal a perceived masculinist philosophy underlying language and gestures toward a "new" feminine language that would allow women to express themselves if it could be spoken.

Irigaray's work also challenges phallogocentrism, noting that society's two gender categories, man and woman, are in fact just one, man, as he is made the universal referent, and therefore working towards a theory of difference.

Her aim, then, is to create two equally positive and autonomous terms, and to acknowledge two sexes, not one. Following this line of thought, with Lacan's mirror stage, Lacan's theory concerning forms of "sexuation", and Derrida's theory of logocentrism in the background, Irigaray also criticises the favouring of unitary truth within patriarchal society. In her theory for creating a new disruptive form of feminine writing (Écriture féminine), she focuses on the child's pre-Oedipal phase when experience and knowledge is based on bodily contact, primarily with the mother. Here lies one major interest of Irigaray's: the mother-daughter relationship, which she considers devalued in patriarchal society. In the realm of Feminist theory, Irigaray is one of the most prominent figures of French feminism, alongside Julia Kristeva, Hélène Cixous and Bracha Ettinger.


There is an extensive body of literature critiquing and engaging with the philosophy of Luce Irigaray. Margaret Whitford's Luce Irigaray: Philosophy in the Feminine and her edited collection of essays Engaging With Irigaray provide a useful starting point.

Sarah Kofman, in ''The Enigma of Woman: Woman in Freud's Writing'', contests Irigaray's reading of Freud's ideas regarding female sexuality while also agreeing with Irigaray on many points such as critiquing sameness and oneness of the sexes. Alan Sokal and Jean Bricmont, in their book Fashionable Nonsense claim that Irigaray has misunderstood scientific concepts and misused scientific terminology.


See also

Index: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

This article is based on "Luce Irigaray" from the free encyclopedia Wikipedia ( It is licensed under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation Licencse. In the Wikipedia you can find a list of the authors by visiting the following address: