MD Murtagh is a PhD Candidate in The Literature Program specializing in feminist theory, science and technology studies, and the history of philosophy.
Their dissertation, “A Cosmology of Sexual Difference: The Constitutive and Self-Forming Matrix” engages philosophical questions from within the fields of contemporary Big Bang cosmology and fundamental physics through an analytic of sexual difference: Why did the Big Bang happen? What was its cause? Was there something that existed before this universe? Is our universe inside an even more primordial space and time that we cannot access? Did the universe ultimately emerge out of something else, or total nothingness? While traditional philosophy and science have their own histories and methods for tackling these questions, sexual difference seeks to uncover or reveal potentially unconscious biases in these discourses. For example, the Stoics describe the generation of the universe in terms of a logos spermatikos or “seminal logos,” while the Book of Psalms in the Judaeo-Christian Bible refers to God-the-Father as “Maker of Heaven and Earth.” The dissertation considers whether these paternalistic and phallo-centered assumptions about the origins of the universe continue to unconsciously inform the scientific imaginary and the ways it frames its metaphysical understanding of what is beyond physics. If so, how might detangling these change the nature of the questions themselves? Is it possible to abstract sexual difference into a logic that generates new questions and models for how we understand the large-scale structure of the universe? They argue that the notion that the universe unfolds embryologically within some more primordial incubative multiverse, which scientists are now beginning to speculate, invites more feminist theorists to reclaim the study of the cosmos as a deeply feminist project.