The Interval: Relation and Becoming in Irigaray, Aristotle, and Bergson

The Interval: Relation and Becoming in Irigaray, Aristotle, and Bergson

Rebecca Hill
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: Fordham University Press
Pages: 198
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  • Book Info
    The Interval: Relation and Becoming in Irigaray, Aristotle, and Bergson
    Book Description:

    The Interval offers the first sustained analysis of the concept grounding Irigaray's thought: the constitutive yet incalculable interval of sexual difference. In an extension of Irigaray's project, Hill takes up her formulation of the interval as a way of rereading Aristotle's concept of topos and Bergson's concept of duration.Hill diagnoses a sexed hierarchy at the heart of Aristotle's and Bergson's presentations. Yet beyond that phallocentrism, she points out how Aristotle's theory of topos as a sensible relation between two bodies that differ in being and Bergson's intuition of duration as an incalculable threshold of becoming are indispensable to the feminist effort to think about sexual difference.Reading Irigaray with Aristotle and Bergson, Hill argues that the interval cannot be grasped as a space between two identities; it must be characterized as the sensible threshold of becoming, constitutive of the very identity of beings. The interval is the place of the possibility of sexed subjectivity and intersubjectivity; the interval is also a threshold of the becoming of sexed forces.

    eISBN: 978-0-8232-6393-6
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-IV)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. V-VI)
  3. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. VII-VIII)
    (pp. IX-XII)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)

    The concept of the “interval” in English and in French (l’intervalle) has both spatial and temporal senses, which are by no means discrete. Frequently, the interval designates a mere gap. An interval is a break between two events or actions in time, or, in extensive terms, an interval is an empty space between two things.¹ Whether construed as spatial or temporal, the interval is presumed to be calculable and homogeneous. The conceptualization of the interval as a calculable gap in time or in space is precisely what I will be arguing against in these pages. Instead, I suggest a heterogeneous...

  6. PART I. Relations

    • 1. The Oblivion of the Interval
      (pp. 11-36)

      To begin a work on the interval—an interval that exceeds and precedes any designation of identity and would serve as the threshold of nonhierarchical sexual difference—with a close reading of Aristotle might be read as a pedestrian gesture. This would be the case if I presented him as a “straw man,” the predictable villain for poststructuralist feminisms and thinkers of difference. After all, he is widely credited with formalizing dichotomous logic, and his work is infamously explicit about woman’s servile relation to man (1254b13–4).¹ While I do not dispute these assessments of Aristotle, I do not begin...

    • 2. Being in Place
      (pp. 37-54)

      This chapter is particularly concerned with the relationship between the concept of place (topos) and bodies that come to be byphysis, a relationship elaborated in Aristotle’sPhysics4.1–5. His concept oftoposis irreducible to space and must be thought beyond mathematical calculation. Further, a deconstructive reading of thePhysicssuggests thattopos—a sensible relation between two bodies that are different in being—has foundational status in Aristotle.¹ I argue that the relation between place and the body surrounded by place is the condition for the identity of substance (ousia), the primary category in his equivocal ontology...

    • 3. The Aporia between Envelope and Things
      (pp. 55-88)

      Irigaray’s introduction toAn Ethics of Sexual Differenceand the essay “Place, Interval” are among the most important texts in the evolution of her thinking. In these works, she goes beyond a critical description of the constitutive phallocentrism of metaphysics to articulate a nonhierarchical figuration of sexual difference.¹ Significantly, for my purposes, her formulation of sexual difference is developed in relation to Aristotle. I argue in this chapter that the interval—difference, the threshold from which the sexes are generated—is in some ways a tribute to his thinking on place (ESD, 40/E, 46).

      Irigaray’s nonhierarchical formulation of sexual difference...

  7. PART II. Becoming

    • 4. Dualism in Bergson
      (pp. 91-112)

      Bergson’s philosophy of duration is important for elaborating the temporality of the interval. In stark contrast to Aristotle’s inability to affirm the interval openly, Bergson privileges a concept of the interval. For Bergson, this concept is the threshold of duration and intuition, the method he believes philosophy must pursue in order to become a rigorous discipline capable of knowing life. Yet this divergence between Aristotle and Bergson is not as stark as it might at first appear. Bergson’s intuitive approach to the interval of duration, like Aristotle’s metaphysics, depends on a disavowed sexed hierarchy, which effaces the possibility of thinking...

    • 5. Interval, Sexual Difference
      (pp. 113-125)

      This chapter offers a feminist critique of the primary intuition of Henri Bergson’s philosophy, his celebrated deduction of consciousness as duration (CM, 12–14 / O, 1254–56). I suggest that his intuition of the enduring self is elaborated within paternal parameters. This claim is not intended as a condemnation of Bergson’s thinking in the name of feminist theory. On the contrary, I want to consider how we may reread his intuition of the enduring self in relation to Luce Irigaray’s formulation of the interval of sexual difference.

      In Irigaray’s work, sexual difference has at least two senses. First, “sexual...

    • 6. Beyond Man: Rethinking Life and Matter
      (pp. 126-144)

      Bergson is important precisely because of his sustained effort to think difference beyond subject and object, as becoming, as the very force of life. Chapter Six evaluates his postulation of a posthuman thinking of life as difference for traces of humanism and phallocentrism.¹ This judgmental approach is not proposed in order to shut Bergson down. I want to emphasize the strands of his thinking of difference I love, strands that may enable a posthuman philosophy of sexual difference. But I do not believe this can be achieved without a critique of the misogyny at work in his project.

      Sometimes he...

  8. Conclusion: Interval as Relation, Interval as Becoming
    (pp. 145-150)

    For irigaray, the interval is difference, the threshold from which space and time and matter and form are engendered (IR, 166–7/E, 15). The concepts of space and time and matter and form are abstract and by no means restricted in the Western tradition to theorizing sexual difference. I have argued that Irigaray acknowledges the possibility of conceiving difference prior to and in excess of sexual difference, if she is read carefully. She suggests that sexual difference is “perhaps the most unthinkable of differences, difference itself” (WL, 106). To deploy the open potentiality of the “perhaps” is to admit the...

  9. NOTES
    (pp. 151-168)
    (pp. 169-182)
  11. INDEX
    (pp. 183-188)