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Aquinas Seminar Series: Prof John Finley on The Metaphysics of Pregnancy: Matter, Individuation, and Communion
14th February: 4:30 pm - 6:00 pm
Thomas Aquinas views the human being as integrally composed of spiritual soul and matter. As in all earthly species, matter is responsible for individuation: for the fact that many instances of ‘human’ can exist. Bodiliness can thus be viewed primarily as something that separates us from each other. Yet no less true for Aquinas are ways in which bodiliness makes possible not just relationships, but even uniquely human forms of community.
?After giving some examples of how matter serves as principle of both individuation and communion in human beings, I turn to pregnancy and argue that it constitutes a paradigmatic case. (As well, pregnancy is “where” individuation happens in the human species). Crucial to my argument is the fact that the human being is more unified in soul and body than is any other earthly substance. Consequently, the human mother and child in utero are uniquely incommunicable toward each other. But for the same reason, because the mother clearly bears the body of her child, so much more uniquely does she bear—and thus unite with—the whole child, body and soul. I conclude by noting some metaphysical and cultural ramifications of the argument.
Venue: Blackfriars - St Giles Oxford, OX1 3LY United Kingdom