Irigaray’s Alternative Buddhist Practices of the Self

Sokthan Yeng


In lieu of an abstract, here is the opening paragraph of the essay:

Luce Irigaray’s critics charge that her attempt to carve out a space for nature and the feminine self through an engagement with Buddhism smacks of Orientalism. Associating Buddhism with a philosophy of nature can lead to feminizing and exoticizing the non-Western other. Because she relies more on lessons learned from yogic teachers than Buddhist texts or scholarship, her work seems to be an appropriation of Buddhist ideas and a critique of Western ideology3 rather than a reflection of Buddhist philosophy.

I trace Orientalist readings of Buddhism, including those of Irigaray, back to Hegel’s influence on comparative philosophy. Indeed, her analysis of the feminine self and nature often seem more like a response to Hegel than an examination of Buddhist principles. Some scholars resist Hegel’s reading by arguing that the Buddhist Absolute manifests in the indeterminately disjunctive and alternative versions of reality and self. Others suggest that the meaning of Buddhism can be found in examining its practices rather than its logic.



Irigaray; Buddhism; non-Western; Hegel

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