Universiteit Leiden

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Martine Berenpas

PhD candidate

M. Berenpas MA
+31 71 527 2031


My research revisits the role of femininity in the work of Emmanuel Levinas by comparing it to how the feminine is understood in one of the most important writings of Daoism, the Daodejing. The investigation of the Daodejing on the role of femininity and gender differences provides significant insights for engaging in ethical and social issues and can shed more light on the problems that arise when Levinas uses the feminine as a metaphor for difference and transcendence. The intuition in this research is that Levinas’s philosophical assertions concerning the feminine are strongly influenced by the Judaic Western tradition on femininity and leads to the problem of male superiority in which the feminine does not have her own voice. The main question of the research is whether there can be an ethical “becoming-woman” that cuts across the empirical difference between the sexes and that comes from the side of the woman, but is irreducible to how she has been defined by the masculine ideal. I suggest that the interdependent and complementary dyad of gender differences as suggested in the Daodejing can provide an answer to this question. The research explores the limits of cross-cultural dialogue through an engagement with the project of comparative feminist philosophy. Broadly understood, comparative feminist philosophy seeks to expand the purview of feminist philosophy by calling for a dialogic engagement with non-Western perspectives and philosophical traditions.

PhD candidate

  • Faculteit der Geesteswetenschappen
  • Instituut voor Wijsbegeerte

Work address

P.J. Veth
Nonnensteeg 1-3
2311 VJ Leiden
Room number 2.03



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