Putting the Embodied Turn in Philosophy to Practice: Luce Irigaray's Response to Nietzsche's Philosophy of Embodied Thinking

Sigridur Thorgeirsdottir*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Luce Irigaray's writings on Nietzsche's philosophy belong to the groundbreaking interpretations of his work and they also confirm the continued relevance of his philosophy. Unlike most male-centric philosophers, Nietzsche not only saw that sexual difference was becoming one of the major philosophical issues of our age. He was also keenly aware of how it permeated our philosophical tradition with its dualistic models, which is one reason for Irigaray's interest in it, as has been widely discussed in feminist/queer philosophical research into her Nietzsche interpretation. Another common denominator of Nietzsche and Irigaray are their philosophies of the body. Interpreters of Irigaray have pointed out how her conception of embodied, sexuate being calls for a new way of philosophical thinking (Grosz), and Stegmaier interprets the liberation from prejudices we encounter in Nietzsche's works as a "liberation of philosophy."How can the liberation of philosophy be understood in the way we practice philosophical thinking? In the following interpretation of Irigaray's book The Marine Lover of Friedrich Nietzsche (1980), I show how it offers a theory and a practice of embodied philosophical thinking, which I will discuss in light of new phenomenological methodologies of embodied thinking (Gendlin, Petitmengin). Irigaray's interpretation of Nietzsche's philosophy in Marine Lover is both critical and constructive as apparent in her interpretation of Dionysus and Ariadne. On the one hand, this couple represents for her the patriarchal tradition of philosophy that she claims Nietzsche is still stuck in, and on the other hand, it also represents a liberation from resentment and misogyny in relations of the sexes. The notions of listening to oneself and to the other, being touched and tearing, enable such a liberation, both on the level of relations of the sexes and on the level of philosophical dialogues and thinking that Dionysus and Ariadne also represent. The water/ocean in the title of Marine Lover indicates how this is a philosophical text that displays an explicit processing and articulation of feelings, emotions, and affects in philosophical thinking.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)271-295
Number of pages25
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jun 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston.

Other keywords

  • Ariadne
  • Body
  • Crying
  • Dionysus
  • Embodied thinking
  • Irigaray


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