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DifferencesRe-reading Beauvoir and Irigaray$
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Emily Anne Parker and Anne van Leeuwen

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190275594

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190275594.001.0001

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Toward a “New and Possible Meeting”

Toward a “New and Possible Meeting”

Ambiguity as Difference

(p.85) Chapter 3 Toward a “New and Possible Meeting”

Emily Anne Parker

Oxford University Press

Audre Lorde understood giving isolated conceptual attention to sexual difference to be a tool of social control. I first discuss this claim in the context of Lorde’s philosophy of difference. I argue that Beauvoir’s The Ethics of Ambiguity and All Men Are Mortal offer in the figure of ambiguity a philosophy of difference that anticipates important aspects of that of Lorde: in these Beauvoirian texts ambiguity articulates an approach which is simultaneously ecological and political. However, to find this thread in Beauvoir’s oeuvre, it is necessary to read against images that she uses in both books to index ambiguity: Marianne de Sinclair (in All Men are Mortal) and Mademoiselle de Lespinasse (in The Ethics of Ambiguity). These images suggest the conceptual reduction of difference to sexual difference that Lorde warns against. I argue that Beauvoirian ambiguity has a power that can override the two figures that she uses to represent it.

Keywords:   Simone de Beauvoir, Audre Lorde, Luce Irigaray, sexual difference, philosophy of race, elemental, ambiguity, singularity, philosophy of nature

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