Plato, Maternity, and Power: Can We Get a Different Midwife?

Document Type

Book Chapter

Department or Administrative Unit

Philosophy and Religious Studies

Publication Date



In this chapter I argue that dominant narratives surrounding pregnancy and motherhood remain beholden to a Platonic devaluation of becoming, which draws a binary dichotomy between mothers and thinkers (especially philosophers), and constructs both pregnant women and young children as fundamentally fragile creatures. The resulting maternal anxiety normalizes fundamentally neurotic ways of relating to ourselves, to our children, and to the world around us. Given how powerfully the dichotomies of vulnerability/virility and embodiment/intellect operate within our understanding of reproduction, in order to address these issues we must pursue a much larger conceptual shift in order to work free of our Platonic melancholy.


This article was originally published in Coming to Life: Philosophies of Pregnancy, Childbirth and Mothering. The article from the publisher can be found here.

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