File spoon-archives/french-feminism.archive/french-feminism_2000/french-feminism.0008, message 13

Date: Fri, 04 Aug 2000 21:44:01 -0400
Subject: Re: talking about Irigaray

Hello all,

Back in graduate school I wrote a paper on Derrida's reading of
Heidegger's claim that Dasein was neutral, and I brought in Irigaray.
This was before Irigaray's _Ethics of Sexual Difference_ had come out,
I think it is still compatible with her orientation to the question.
E-mail me privately if you'd like a copy of the paper. Here's a
two-paragraph snippet:

    In his reading of Heidegger's Marburg lectures, Derrida has
recuperated Dasein's sexuality.  But this sexuality is
predifferentiated—not necessarily homogeneous, but not yet multiple.
Turning to Heidegger's Being and Time, where sexuality is never
Derrida looks for clues as to whether Dasein could be ontologically
differentiated.  If Dasein could be ontologically differentiated then
first order of difference, sexuality, could be acknowledged
ontologically.  The most promising clues Derrida finds are Heidegger's
spatial metaphors:  namely Zerstreuung (dispersion, scattering,
dissipation) and Erstreckung (a spacing opening up a between, extending
between birth and death, distension).    The Erstreckung is "one of the
determinate possibilities of essential dispersion [Zerstreuung]." (394)
Another key spatial metaphor is that Dasein is thrown—it is thrown in
originality.  Derrida writes: "It is at this point that the theme of
sexual difference can reappear.  The disseminal throw of being-there
(understood still in its neutrality) is particularly manifest in the
that Dasein is Mitsein [being-with] with Dasein.  As always in this
context, Heidegger's first gesture is to observe an order of
sexual difference, or belonging to a genre, must be elucidated starting
from being-with, in other words, from the disseminal throw, and not
inversely (Geschlecht, 396)." Being-with is not a factitious or ontic
occurrence.  This "gathering together" of genres is an existential
condition of Dasein.  It brings together multiplicity.  Thus, as Derrida

reads him, Heidegger reinscribes sexuality "within an ontological
questioning and an existential analytic."  (Geschlecht, 397)
    I began by noting that for both Irigaray and Derrida, sexual
difference is not an ontic predicate.  Irigaray, at least, implies so
much.  Derrida is explicit:  "There is no properly sexual predicate; at
least there is none that does not refer, for its sense, to the general
structures of Dasein."  (Geschlecht, 400)  In other words, in Derrida's
reading of Heidegger, the only proper sexual predicates are ontological:

involved in Dasein's inquiry into Being.  They evoke the spatial
that Derrida argues are ontological.  Drawing his argument to a close,
Derrida writes:  "This order of implications opens up thinking  to a
sexual difference that would not yet be sexual duality, difference as
dual."  What Heidegger's Marburg lectures "neutralized was less
itself than the 'generic' mark of sexual difference, belonging to one of

two sexes."


   Noelle McAfee
   Assistant Professor
   Department of Philosophy
   University of Massachusetts Lowell

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