The Feminine Symptom
Aleatory Matter in the Aristotelian Cosmos
Publication Year: 2014
Published by: Fordham University Press
Title Page, Copyright
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This project has had such a long gestation that it is impossible to acknowledge adequately all those who have contributed one way or another to its genesis. At the very least, I should say that I am profoundly grateful to a bevy of brilliant and generous interlocutors...
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The notion of telos—the end, or the “for the sake of which” things exist or happen—is a famously intractable keystone in the architecture of Western metaphysics and science. Originating in Aristotle’s philosophical system, it structures nature and human action: through...
1. Aristotelian Causation, Reproduction,and Accident and Chance
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In Generation of Animals Aristotle famously states, “we should look upon the female state as being as it were a deformity [anapērian], though one which occurs in the ordinary course of nature [phusikēn].”1 This pronouncement, extraordinary to the twenty-first–century eye...
2. Necessity and Automaton
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Necessity, anankē—often figured as a goddess in Greek mythology and tragedy—is discussed by Aristotle in multiple contexts, including the final chapter of Physics II, in Parts of Animal, Generation of Animals, De Generatione et Corruptione, Posterior Analytics, and the...
3. The Errant Femininein Plato’s Timaeus
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The previous chapters aimed to establish that the most significant opposition through which to understand sexual difference in Aristotle’s physical and metaphysical architecture is not that of form and matter, but rather that between teleology and chance. The masculine...
4. The Physics of Sexual Differencein Aristotle and Irigaray
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In the Timaeus, Plato’s feminine receptacle/chōra provides the entire worldly fabric and context for the coming-to-be and passing away of the static and ideal forms, giving everything that subtends the world of becoming: extension, location, space, place, potential, materiality...
5. Motion and Gender inthe Aristotelian Cosmos
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While the ontological status of motion in Aristotle has been a matter of considerable debate, it is clear from even a cursory look at the Aristotelian corpus that the problem of motion takes center stage throughout. In Heidegger’s reading of Aristotle, the problem of...
6. Sexual Difference in Potentialityand Actuality
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At the start of Metaphysics VI.2 Aristotle gives an instructive summary of the “many ways” in which being is spoken (legetai pollachos). First, there is being according to accident, second, being according to the true (and not-being in the sense of the false), third, being according...
Coda: Matters Arising
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Matter, and thus the feminine, appears in the Aristotelian cosmos in three main guises. First, and paradigmatically, matter is the substrate of a change that necessarily comes from elsewhere. It is passive, what is acted upon, it is weighty and falls to earth, it is potential...
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Page Count: 304
Illustrations: 1 b/w illustration
Publication Year: 2014