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Phenomenology 2010

Volume 5, Issue Part 1, 2010

Selected Essays from North America Part 1

Sarah LaChance Adams
Pages 333-354

The Pregnable Subject
Maternity and Levinas’s Relevance to Feminism

In Levinas’ Otherwise than Being, the mother appears as the prototype of ethical subjectivity, complete being for the other. Adams argues that Levinas appropriates the maternal perspective without concern for the actual complexities of motherhood. He especially neglects the (very common) experience of maternal ambivalence and women’s desires for independence. Ironically, Adams claims, Levinas provides the most valuable insights to mothering as an ethical practice when he is not speaking of mothers, women, or the “feminine” directly. In particular, he illuminates the temporality of maternal ethics and its complex relationship to freedom.

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