Contents of spoon-archives/french-feminism.archive/Lubbock.abstracts/roberts-jones

Abstract for Liberal Ironism and Sexual Ethics: The Scopes of Contingency Meaghan Roberts-Jones This paper will attempt to examine the radical contingency implied and embodied in Rorty's concepts of the liberal ironist, private self-perfecting and social hope as antithetical to sexual ethics, especially those envisioned by Luce Irigaray and will offer Irigaray's ethics (or ethos) as a socially hopeful response to Rorty's crippling contingency. Rorty's subject, the liberal ironist, is committed to two "incommensurable" (Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity xv) projects: the utopian project of imagination and social hope, and the conservative project of self-perfecting. The two projects are not only incommensurable, but seem to be antagonists in that for the liberal ironist there is no answer to the question, "Why not be cruel?" At the crux, and as the context, of this agon lies Rorty's radical contingency. The ironist is such due to a keen sense of the contingency of her/his own socio-historical moment as well as of all the metanarratives which "explain" and "justify" that moment. The question of cruelty is unanswerable because culture and history offer no stable criteria for the category "cruelty," thus the ironist may chose to act imaginatively in the name of social hope and the struggles against cruelty and damage, or may choose to act in name of self-perfecting and possibly be cruel in so doing. Counter to this subject position, one can situate Irigaray's ethics of sexual difference. To remain within Rorty's categories for the moment, in Irigaray's ethics the projects of self-perfecting and social hope become commensurable. In fact, both occur through a radically transformed economy of desire. In this economy, two fully articulated subjects engage in mutual self-perfecting, a project of social hope. These subject remain in an historically contingent situation, but that contingency becomes the subjects' temporary but necessary conditions - contingency becomes a horizon within which on must act, not an optional bedtime story. The category of cruelty is not defunct for Irigaray because the economy of desire takes place in the interval between two subjects who define the dimensions of the that interval. One of those dimensions can be cruelty - a particular shape of the interval. Since the question of self-perfection is shifted from the subject to the perfection of economy of desire between subjects, cruelty can be mitigated either by those two subject or by a larger social sphere seen as contingent in the soft sense. Finally, it is Irigaray's ethics, no Rorty's liberal ironist which offers an intimation of truly utopic social hope.

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