One or two? A Process View of pregnancy (Anne Sophie Meincke)

We are very happy to present our next speaker at the “What Is Life?” symposium: Anne Sophie Meincke – a philosopher of biology, who is not afraid to explore philosophical questions from alternative perspectives. In addition to her theoretical work, she is also a writer and an artist. She describes her artistic approach thusly: »I try out new perspectives, combine what has not been combined so far and make visible what we tend to overlook or even avoid looking at.« However, she will be coming to the symposium primarily as a philosopher of biology, specialising in process ontology. We invite our followers to get to know her unique approach to answering complicated metaphysical questions by reading her captivating article about the process ontology of pregnancy (available here).


“How many individuals are present where we see a pregnant individual? Within a substance ontological framework, there are exactly two possible answers to this question. The standard answer—two individuals—is typically championed by scholars endorsing the predominant Containment View of pregnancy, according to which the foetus resides in the gestating organism like in a container. The alter- native answer—one individual—has recently found support in the Parthood View, according to which the foetus is a part of the gestating organism. Here I propose a third answer: a pregnant individual is neither two individuals nor one individual but something in between one and two. This is because organisms are better understood as processes than as substances. With a special focus on the Parthood View, I explain why a Process View of pregnancy, according to which a pregnant individual is a bifurcating hypercomplex process, surpasses the substance ontological approaches.”