The Order of Life: How Phenomenologies of Pregnancy Revise and Reject Theories of the Subject

In Sarah LaChance Adams & Caroline R. Lundquist (eds.), Coming to Life: Philosophies of Pregnancy, Childbirth and Mothering. New York: Fordham University Press. pp. 283-299 (2013)
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This chapter discusses how phenomenologies of pregnancy challenge traditional philosophical accounts of a subject that is seen as autonomous, rational, genderless, unified, and independent from other subjects. Pregnancy defies simple incorporation into such universal accounts since the pregnant woman and her unborn child are incapable of being subsumed into traditional theories of the subject. Phenomenological descriptions of the experience of pregnancy lead one to question if philosophy needs to reject the subject altogether as central, or rather to revise traditional descriptions of the subject. The chapter examines both options and argues for the later. The exploration of pregnancy in feminist theory upholds the value of working from the subject’s lived experience, but indicates that it is possible without viewing the subject as a disembodied universal agent. Finally, it discusses how phenomenologies of pregnancy are attuned to discussing difference thereby aiding philosophies that take into account the political, historical, and cultural conditioning that shape experience and theory.
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