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Mad Mothers, Bad Mothers, and What a "Good" Mother Would DoThe Ethics of Ambivalence$
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Sarah LaChance Adams

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780231166751

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231166751.001.0001

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Maternity as Dehiscence in the Flesh in the Philosophy of Maurice Merleau-Ponty

Maternity as Dehiscence in the Flesh in the Philosophy of Maurice Merleau-Ponty

Chapter:
(p.109) Five Maternity as Dehiscence in the Flesh in the Philosophy of Maurice Merleau-Ponty
Source:
Mad Mothers, Bad Mothers, and What a "Good" Mother Would Do
Author(s):

Sarah Lachance Adams

Publisher:
Columbia University Press
DOI:10.7312/columbia/9780231166751.003.0005

This chapter examines how maternity is characterized as a case of dehiscence in the flesh. Dehiscence occurs when a body opens and spills its internal contents. Similar to being a mother, dehiscence indicates a gap in one's internal integrity that can be life giving and/or life threatening. From pregnancy to caring for older and adopted children, the mother–child relation shows how human beings co-create the world with one another. Some thinkers worry that perceiving the maternal as flesh means that the mother is equated with nature and her subjectivity is erased. This issue is alleviated if the concept of flesh is properly understood as involving dehiscence. Merleau-Ponty deems the things of the world, including people, to be expressions of one sensible flesh, which involves an inherent dehiscence between the self and the other. This is a description of the fundamental ambiguity of our relations; similarly, the mother's relation to her child is necessarily ambiguous.

Keywords:   Maurice Merleau-Ponty, dehiscence, mother–child relationship, subjectivity, the self, the other

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