Character of the feminine in lévinas and the daodejing

Journal of Chinese Philosophy 36 (2):261-276 (2009)
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Abstract

This paper explores Lévinas’s philosophical reflection upon the feminine and attempts to bring it into communication with the importance ascribed to the feminine embodied in the Daodejing. According to Lévinas, the feminine is the very quality of difference that cannot be subsumed into the totality of the same. He emphasizes the importance of considering women in their own right. This is a forceful opposition against androcentrism. Daoist philosophy has often been characterized as “feminine” in terms of its orientation. This paper shows the inadequacy of three readings of the references to femininity in the Daodejing, namely, quasi-feminist historical reading, correlative reading and political reading, and argues that the feminine occupies a central place in this scripture, which is manifest most effectively in the principle of abiding by the female.

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