The Gift of the Other

Levinas and the Politics of Reproduction

By Lisa Guenther

Subjects: Women's Studies
Series: SUNY series in Gender Theory
Paperback : 9780791468487, 200 pages, August 2006
Hardcover : 9780791468470, 200 pages, August 2006

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Table of contents

Introduction: The Gift of the Other

A Feminist Approach to Levinas
A Levinasian Approach to Feminism
Birth, Time, Ethics

1. The “Facts” of Life: Beauvoir’s Account of Reproduction

Take 1: Birth as a Project
Take 2: Birth as an Ambiguous Situation

2. The Body Politic: Arendt on Time, Natality, and Reproduction

Vita Activa: Labor, Work, Action
The Temporality of Action: Promise and Forgiveness
Thinking Through Natality
Reproducing Natality: Cavarero's Reading of Arendt

3.Welcome the Stranger: Birth as the Gift of the Feminine Other

Derrida and the Gift of the Impossible
Cixous and the Gift of the Feminine
Levinas and the Gift of Hospitality
I am welcomed: From ethos to oikos
You are welcome: From oikos to ethos

4. Fathers and Daughters: Levinas, Irigaray, and the Transformation of Paternity

Paternity as Infinite Discontinuity
Otherwise than Paternity: Irigaray Reading Levinas
From Paternity to the Maternal Body: Isaiah 49

5. Ethics and the Maternal Body: Levinas and Kristeva Between the Generations

Time and the Maternal Body
Ethics and Herethics
Moses and His Mothers: Numbers 11:12

6. Maternal Ethics, Feminist Politics: The Question of Reproductive Choice

Defending the Imaginary Domain: Drucilla Cornell
Levinas Between Ethics and Politics
Ethics, Politics, and the Prospect of “Unborn Mothers” 
Altered Maternities


A philosophical exploration of birth, maternity, and reproduction. Winner of the 2007 Symposium Book Award presented by Symposium: Canadian Journal of Continental Philosophy


Winner of the 2007 Symposium Book Award presented by Symposium: Canadian Journal of Continental Philosophy

The Gift of the Other brings together a philosophical analysis of time, embodiment, and ethical responsibility with a feminist critique of the way women's reproductive capacity has been theorized and represented in Western culture. Author Lisa Guenther develops the ethical and temporal implications of understanding birth as the gift of the Other, a gift which makes existence possible, and already orients this existence toward a radical responsibility for Others. Through an engagement with the work of Levinas, Beauvoir, Arendt, Irigaray, and Kristeva, the author outlines an ethics of maternity based on the givenness of existence and a feminist politics of motherhood which critiques the exploitation of maternal generosity.

Lisa Guenther is Lecturer in the Philosophy Department at The University of Auckland, New Zealand.