The Maternal Gift of Life

  • Simon ReaderEmail author
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Ethics and Public Policy book series (PASEPP)


This chapter seeks to recover a thought of maternal giving, beginning with Jacques Derrida’s deconstruction of the gift and the idea of its distinctive realisation in self-sacrificial death as eluding the possibility of reciprocation. A similarly radical structure of giving occurs in birth, where the child is fundamentally unable to return the gifts of air, corporeality and time to the mother who gives. This points to plausible accounts both of the patriarchal fixation upon death, and of recent feminist and maternal thinking about ethics that identifies in our giftedness at birth a source of our ethical calling to responsibility for others.


Gift Reciprocity Maternity Birth Gratitude Death 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Keele UniversityNewcastle-under-LymeUK

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