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Luce Irigaray (born 1932 Belgiummarker) is a Belgianmarker feminist, philosopher, linguist, psychoanalytic, sociologist 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 in Philosophy & Arts from the University of Louvain (Leuven) in 1955. She taught in a Brusselsmarker 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 Parismarker. 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 Parismarker.

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. In 1969 she analysed Antoinette Fouque, a leader of the French women's movement. 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.

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 Universitymarker in Rotterdammarker. 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.

In 2008, Luce Irigaray was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Literature by University College, Londonmarker.

Contributions to feminist theory

Irigaray is inspired by the psychoanalytic theories of Sigmund 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 what she calls 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.

Irigaray's aim is to create two equally positive and autonomous terms, and to acknowledge two (at least, she sometimes adds) 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 what is sometimes called French feminism, (called so, misleadingly in the opinion of Simone de Beauvoir), alongside Julia Kristeva and Hélène Cixous.


Alan Sokal and Jean Bricmont devote a chapter to Irigaray in their Fashionable Nonsense. (1999) In her works, they note numerous examples of what they describe as dubious reasoning, misuse of terminology); and her seeming suggestion that the menstrual cycle makes it difficult for women to understand geometry. "With friends like these," write Sokal and Bricmont, "feminism hardly needs enemies."


  • Speculum of the Other Woman 1974, (Eng. trans. 1985)
  • This Sex Which Is Not One 1977, (Eng. trans. 1985)
  • When Our Lips Speak Together 1977
  • And the One Doesn't Stir without the Other 1979, (Eng. trans. 1981)
  • Marine Lover: Of Friedrich Nietzsche, 1980, (Eng. trans. 1980)
  • Elemental Passions 1982, (Eng. trans. 1992)
  • Belief Itself 1983
  • The Forgetting of Air: In Martin Heidegger 1983, (Eng. trans. 1999)
  • An Ethics of Sexual Difference 1984, (Eng. trans. 1993)
  • To Speak is Never Neutral 1985, (Eng. trans. 2002)
  • Sexes and Genealogies 1987, (Eng. trans. 1993)
  • Thinking the Difference: For a Peaceful Revolution 1989, (Eng. trans. 1993)
  • Je, tu, nous: Towards a Culture of Difference 1990, (Eng. trans. 1993)
  • I Love to You: Sketch for a Felicity Within History 1990, (Eng. trans. 1993)
  • Democracy Begins Between Two 1994, (Eng. trans. 2000)
  • To Be Two 1997, (Eng. trans. 2001)
  • Between East and West 1999, (Eng. trans. 2001)
  • The Way of Love 2002
  • Sharing the World (Eng. trans. 2008)

See also


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