Proceedings of the XXII World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 25, 2008

Philosophy and Gender

Gertrude Postl
Pages 87-93

Feminists Reading the Canon
Luce Irigaray’s Concept of Mimesis as Reading Strategy

How to read the canonical texts of the male philosophical tradition has been an ongoing question for feminist philosophers. This paper wants to investigate Luce Irigaray’s notion of mimesis so as to offer an alternative reading practice for traditional philosophical texts. The paper will consist of two parts: in a first section, Irigaray’s concept of mimesis will be discussed in its affirmative as well as its transformative version; the second part attempts to apply the concept of mimesis to contemporary feminist readings of the philosophical canon. It will be shown that most existing feminist scholarship in philosophy follows the pattern of an affirmative mimetic approach while Irigaray’s own readings of male philosophers offers a stylistic example for the use of a transformative version of mimesis. It will be claimed that both approaches are necessary since they complement each other in significant ways, one interpreting traditional texts, the other re-writing them.