Rethinking the Ill Body in Phallocentric Western Culture: A Critical Engagement with Luce Irigaray
Bachelor of Arts
Irigaray, Illness, Phallocentrism, Body, Divine, Sensible, Transcendental
This capstone critically engages with the work of prolific, contemporary continental philosopher Luce Irigaray on subjectivity and the body in order to challenge widely held notions of the ill body in phallocentric culture. Within my project, phallocentrism means the privileging of an erect, rational, individually autonomous body with defined boundaries. Using sociologist Ken Plummer's journal during his liver disease, I extend Irigaray's critique of phallocentrism to the experience of illness in Western culture. Ill bodies occupy a space analogous to that of female bodies within Irigaray's theory, because phallocentrism subordinates ill bodies to the normative phallic body that is functional, bounded, and under control. I read Plummer's text as an example of Irigaray’s "sensible transcendental": a non-religious transcendence grounded in the body's sensibility. I argue for the potential of a sensible transcendental in the mode of "speaking the sick body" to disrupt troublesome phallocentric bodily ideals, and further that the sensible transcendental may be an especially useful model for ill bodies because these bodies are in an immediate state of change.
Kahn, Sarah E., "Rethinking the Ill Body in Phallocentric Western Culture: A Critical Engagement with Luce Irigaray" (2015). Honors Papers. 263.