The Pregnant Self
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Pregnancy, a human phenomenon experienced throughout the world and throughout history, has been largely ignored by the philosophical community. A preference for the abnormal and the extraordinary has left this common yet challenging process on the sidelines of philosophical discussion. Pregnancy stands as a significant challenge to many of our intuitions about the self, particularly those concerning the boundaries, plurality and diachronic identity of the self. Because of this, pregnancy necessitates a theory of the self which does not merely uphold our usual assumptions about the self. Daniel Dennett presents a theory of the self which meets this criterion. He argues that the self is a centre of narrative gravity: an abstract, theoretical entity which is useful for the explanation and prediction of an individual’s behaviour. Dennett’s theory, though provocative, lacks a basis in typical human experience. He relies primarily on thought experiments and extraordinary conditions to support his theory. To demonstrate the applicability and generality of this theory, it must be tested against a common, natural human occurrence like pregnancy. In this paper we explore the application of Daniel Dennett’s theory of the narrative self to the experience of pregnancy. This application yields a double result. Dennett’s theory is bolstered by a demonstration of its generality and applicability, and the experience of pregnancy is placed into a context in which it can be validated and understood.