“Sexual difference is one of the important questions of our age, if not in fact the burning issue. . . . each age is preoccupied with one thing, and one alone.”
This statement made decades ago by the French Philosopher Luce Irigaray, has not lost any of its relevance. On the contrary. With the emergence of “gender” as something other than “sex,” and the revolutionary goal to “eliminate the sex distinction itself” (Firestone), the question about its nature becomes ever more urgent.
This course will examine the nature of sexual difference, considering both the difference in itself and the male and female difference. We will examine the metaphysical discussion of the difference in Plato and Aristotle, then Thomas Aquinas. Ultimately, we will consider this in the light of the “Christian Difference” (Sokolowski, Balthasar, Fortin, Hadjadj, among others). The course will also examine the biological account of sexual difference, including the emergence of it in organic life, in the life of an individual, and the way it manifests itself in and between the two sexes (Darwin, Beauvoir, Portman, among others). Finally, the course will take up the modern distinction between (a “merely biological”) “sex” and “gender identity” either as a “social construct” or a “self-identification” (Money, Rubin, Butler, Trueman, among others), while considering the goals behind what is in effect a revolt against the created order itself (Del Noce).