Contents of spoon-archives/french-feminism.archive/Lubbock.abstracts/switala
ABSTRACT FOR THE 1997 FRENCH FEMINISM ACROSS THE DISCIPLINES CONFERENCE AT
TEXAS TECH UNIVERSITY
"Cixous and Chawaf: Moving Beyond Philosophical Ethics Towards a
by Kristin Switala
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
Contemporary French Feminism has made a concerted effort to move beyond
traditional, masculine, absolutist ethics towards something different by
introducing the feminine into language. This can clearly be seen in the
works of Helene Cixous and Chantal Chawaf. Both writers refrain from
recourse to abstract principles or to ethics based on reason and
rationality when considering how one should act in a given situation.
Instead, Cixous and Chawaf concentrate on the body and its desires as a
way of understanding three things: why humans act in particular ways,
what effects these actions have on the self and on other human beings, and
how a praxis based on bodily care could improve our ethical relations with
each other. This strategy results ina new understanding of ethical
action, one which emerges from physical causes and events, such as birth,
sexual relations, and maternity.
The term which I use to identify this new type of ethics is "philosomy,"
from the Greek words "philo" (love) and "soma" (body). Philosomy, a
loving of the body, is the strategy used by these French feminist writers
to renew the importance of the body in ethical considerations, which can
help renew ethics in general.
As I will show in this paper, philosomy means respecting, valuing, taking
care of, and not harming one's own body or the bodies of others. in
general terms, philosomy is a praxis, a way of conducting oneself in
relation to the world. In this paper I will show how such a philosomy
emerges out of the writings of Cixous and Chawaf and discuss how such a
strategy of ethical action could help us today.
ArchTracker © Malgosia Askanas, 2000-2005