A Time for the Humanities: Futurity and the Limits of Autonomy

By James J. Bono; Tim Dean et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 9
Luce Irigaray and the
Question of Critique

Elizabeth Weed

The future of critique is one of the puzzles facing the critical disciplines. There is one mode of critical reading that attempts to trouble the text for what it is blind to or what it wants not to know. There is another mode of reading that explores some area in the domain of the known, thinks about it differently, casts new light on it, and in doing so, amplifies and clarifies. If the latter thrives to the exclusion of the former, there is a risk that a certain complacency might take hold, a renewed confidence in the reliability of language and thought. To neglect critique and its particular form of practice would be to forget something about the nature of change, for in order to approach change—something heretofore unseen—one cannot know in advance what one is looking for.

There has been much reflection on the fading of poststructuralist theory and the form of critique it represents. The very different kinds of critical work labeled “poststructuralist” have in common a certain set of practices that question the conditions of possibility of thought, examine the historical and symbolic elements constitutive of the seemingly natural and commonplace, and endeavor to expose conceptual and discursive blind spots. The rise during the past several decades of critical movements such as the new historicism and cultural studies has cast new light on poststructuralist practices and presented competing theories of critical

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