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Philosophy in the Contemporary World

Volume 20, Issue 2, Fall 2013

Tim Johnston
Pages 28-37
DOI: 10.5840/pcw20132028

Holding Well and Holding Open
Bergson and Parental Deliberations on Neonatal Genital Normalization Surgery

This essay is a philosophical analysis of a parent's decision whether or not to consent to neonatal genital nomalization surgery for a child bom with ambiguous genitals. Using Henri Bergson's analysis of duration, I make the distinction between spatialized narrative snapshots, and attention to duration, A spatialized narrative snapshot is a speculative picture of the child's entire life. Attention to duration requires we acknowledge that as long as the child is alive her life is indeterminate. I then take Hilde Lindemann's concept of holding and develop it to help parents understand attention to duration in order to resist the pressure to consent to genital normalization surgery.