III. Symbolic Patterns of Childbirth
III. Symbolic Patterns of Childbirth Childbirth can acquire manifold meanings in myths, philosophy, literature and religion some of which here will be grouped together and explored as symbolic patterns. Four of these symbolic patterns have been chosen for analysis and can be traced through space and time: 1. The supremacy of the male 2. Theoretical, spiritual and political natality versus childbirth 3. The supremacy of the female 4. Harmony between spiritual/theoretical natality and childbirth These four ways of accessing giving birth through different registers are not randomly grouped together, but are assumed to be linked by an inter- nal logic based on the conception of childbirth outlined in the previous chapter. On the grounds of Hannah Arendt’s philosophy of natality it was possible to place childbirth (primary natality) on one line with the think- ing activity of the mind, the performance of great deeds and a spiritual rebirth due to religious experiences. All these realms are ways of access- ing a beginning and a mortal immortality. The link between primary natality and “mortal immortality” may explain one peculiar phenomenon in the history of thought regarding our topic, namely the symbolic exclusion or devaluation either of the role of the male or of the role of the female sex in relation to the birth of chil- dren (symbolic patterns 1 and 3). Such a way of symbolically attributing childbirth more to the man, or more to the woman, may be considered an endless symbolic contention over the question of which body...
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