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Interrogating Antigone in Postmodern Philosophy and Criticism$
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S. E. Wilmer and Audrone Zukauskaite

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199559213

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199559213.001.0001

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1 Between Myth and History: The Tragedy of Antigone

1 Between Myth and History: The Tragedy of Antigone

(p.197) 11 1Between Myth and History: The Tragedy of Antigone
Interrogating Antigone in Postmodern Philosophy and Criticism

Luce Irigaray

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores the Antigone myth and its unveiling in history from the context of sexual difference. Sexual difference is the most basic and universal difference, starting from which we can reach a global democratic community and culture respectful of all our other differences. Antigone's respect for the unwritten laws—the laws of human nature and the gods—reveals her respect for living beings and the cosmic order. She sees Polynices as the ‘son of my mother’. To Antigone humanity is comprised of man and of woman and she respects this sexual difference just as she respects her brother as a brother and her duty to him as a sister before her marriage to Haemon. Antigone fights not solely for her brother's burial but also to maintain the cosmic harmony. She tries to maintain a delicate balance between the gods of the underworld, her world, and Zeus. Life is the supreme value for Antigone. She only asks to live, to be. Creon breaks the cosmic harmony. He does not take female sexual identity into consideration. Creon can be viewed as a eunuch due to his lack of differentiation from the maternal world. Irigaray questions how the maternal world that asserts itself as patriarchy has been established in an arbitrary way. She believes that the maternal world should not begin with function but with sexual difference. A woman is first and foremost a woman before she is a mother. A feminine order can help men provide for differentiation (not repression) and growth of identity.

Keywords:   Bachofen, Hegel, sexual difference, sexuate difference, unwritten law, Anouilh, absolute, genealogy, transcendence

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