Coming to Life: Philosophies of Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Mothering

Coming to Life: Philosophies of Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Mothering

Coming to Life: Philosophies of Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Mothering

Coming to Life: Philosophies of Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Mothering

Synopsis

Coming to Life does what too few scholarly works have dared to attempt: It takes seriously the philosophical significance of women's lived experience. Every woman, regardless of her own reproductive story, is touched by the beliefs and norms governing discourses about pregnancy, childbirth, and mothering.The volume's contributors engage in sustained reflection on women's experiences and on the beliefs, customs, and political institutions by which they are informed. They think beyond the traditional pro-choice/pro-life dichotomy, speak to the manifold nature of mothering by considering the experiences of adoptive mothers and birthmothers, and upend the belief that childrearing practices must be uniform, despite psychosexual differences in children. Many chapters reveal the radical shortcomings of conventional philosophical wisdom by placing trenchant assumptions about subjectivity, gender, power and virtue in dialogue with women's experience.

Excerpt

EVA KITTAY

What a joy to see a collection such as this. In it, Sarah LaChance Adams and Caroline Lundquist realize one of the hopes of the earlier generation of feminist philosophers of which I am a part: that philosophy takes seriously the experience and lives of women. Every woman, whether she has embarked on the path of motherhood and whether she has gotten there via pregnancy and childbirth, is faced with the default social expectation that maternity is her destiny and her principle source of accomplishment and joy. A concomitant ideology, found not only in Western society but also more globally, is that not only the social but even the ontological status of woman is tied to her capacity to bear children, give birth to them, and rear them. Therefore, every woman is touched by the topics covered here, whether they are part of her actual experience or the imaginary through which women’s subjectivity is constructed. Hence, these concerns are central to any philosophical project that takes the lives of women seriously.

The essays here place the nurturance, physicality, and situatedness of mothering in dialogue with the abstraction and putative universality of philosophy’s canonical works. They explore the profound shaping of a woman’s identity and subjectivity through the process of pregnancy, childbirth, and mothering both when there is and when—through miscarriage, abortion, or adoption—there is no child to nurture and raise. The essays are explored through the works of traditional male phil osophers such a Plato, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, and Derrida, as well as the groundbreaking works of feminist philosophers such as Sara Ruddick, Iris . . .

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