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

By Sarah Lachance Adams; Caroline R. Lundquist | Go to book overview

Introduction: The Philosophical Significance
of Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Mothering

SARAH LACHANCE ADAMS AND CAROLINE LUNDQUIST

Philosophy has often been described as preparation for death. Cicero wrote that to philosophize is to learn how to die, and Heidegger claims that being-toward-death constitutes the authentic attitude toward life. These ideas are not intended to be morbid. Rather, they propose that we should not be enslaved by death, not be driven by our evasions of it through forgetfulness or the striving toward immortality. In doing so, we would miss much of what is worth living for. To run away from death is to run away from life. Thus, in The Book of Dead Philosophers, Simon Critchley writes, “The denial of death is self-hatred.”1

While many philosophers have embraced life by way of death, they have typically evaded another fundamental truth of our existence, the bookend at the other end of life—birth. It is sometimes said that you cannot be there at your own origin. Nevertheless, it is true that one can be present at the origin of another human being—conception, pregnancy, childbirth, the child’s first word, the first steps, and so on. These are the experiences that women are usually more involved in than men. Yet, since women have largely been excluded from the practice of academic philosophy, their experiences have rarely found just representation in the canon. As a result, philosophy has a long history of ignoring, misunderstanding, reappropriating, and denigrating pregnancy, childbirth, and mothering. This volume is part of a growing movement to correct these problems.

Although this anthology is not a proceedings volume, it was inspired by conversations that took place at a conference entitled Philosophical Inquiry

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