To come to the world

Coming to the world. Parenting as a Philosophical Adventure
PARENTS: When a child is born, three people come into the world.


The moment two people can call themselves parents, an irrevocable transformation begins. They have become institutions, individually and together. "I" has become blurred. "We" are the focus. This innovation project took on the married couple Svenja Flaßpöhler and Florian Werner when their daughter, and later son, came to the world. Together and individually they have written the book Coming to the world ("Coming to the World") with the subtitle Parenting as a Philosophical Adventure ("The Philosophical Adventure of Being Parents"). The theme is obvious, as Flaßpöhler is a writer, philosopher and editor-in-chief of the magazine Philosophie Magazins. Werner is also a writer as well as a literary writer and lecturer. By writing each chapter, they emphasize that this parenting alliance does not mean talking with one tongue. As newborn parents they complement each other, but they are also each other's opponents.


The differences of opinion illustrate those in the sections on names. Which surname – which family – should the child inherit? In the beginning, though, both agree that the daughter should have a mother's last name, because "men have relayed their name long enough." But then it goes with Svenja. "Isn't it true that with her mother's biological special position and her superior ranking in her child's life, she already has a natural – if not moral – advantage? Moreover, from a feminist point of view, the biological role of women in the family and society [think Martin Luther: Kinder, Kirche, Küche / children, church, kitchen], regardless of an oversized role. She lets the child's last name be changed to Dad's name, something Dad just agrees to cover for his wife. To him, name is just name.

Florian's identity is more closely related to the specific bond. For example, during baby swimming. He is the only man in a womanly setting: naked babies, half naked, nursing women, where Florian feels like an invisible nothing gender. The women overlook him. Had a pool been full of men plus a woman, he reflects, she would have been the subject of massive attention. Florian states selfishly: “With birth, not only does my own subjectivity evaporate, I also lose body, sexuality, gender individuality. As a white, heterosexual man, I'm a retirement model. " 


Svenja sees her own identity project in relation to her profession. She quotes Friedrich Nietzsche: “What great philosophers are married? Not Schopenhauer, Heraklit, Plato, Descartes, Spinoza, Kant. A married philosopher belongs in the comedy. ” Nietzsche defends the claim by using the concept of asceticism. To become a great thinker, one must practice abstinence. Marriage? Out. Of course, he only talks about men. A female philosopher is thus an even greater joke than a married philosopher. Svenja gives Nietzsche so far right: To create a spiritual work, one must occasionally shut the world out, indulge in an egocentric abstinence that makes creation possible. She, on the other hand, keeps the door open for two types of fertility – the physical and the intellectual. So far Nietzsche never came. 

There are two types of fertility – the physical and the intellectual.

Is child only an enrichment? Of course not. They are also thieves. That steals time, effort and money. One of the countless waking networks that binds Florian to the cot, he begins to reckon: How much does the little treasure really cost? He sums up ongoing expenses
- without including items such as children's gate, remodeling of nursery, daycare etc. – and comes to 584 euros a month. Once the child has reached the age of authority, the cost has reached 130 euros. And all this without any guarantee that it has all paid off. That the child would like to thank for the piano lessons, the football training or for anything: “Fortunately. Because the moment your child comes to the world, you stop being homo economist. " Parenthood, in the words of philosopher Georges Batailles, becomes "an unproductive gift" – a size of intrinsic value.


There is undoubtedly a rational basis for this motherly / fatherly altruism. Many parents will be familiar with angry outbursts like, "I didn't ask to be born!" Søren Kierkegaard asked in the middle of the 19th century: "How did I come to the world, and why wasn't I asked?" 150 years later, philosopher and cultural theorist Peter Sloterdijk (incidentally married four times) asks: "Does my origin have any kind of come-to-world contract with me?" In other words, it seems to be a problem for many, at least in part – to be able to decide over the end, but not over the beginning. Florian joins Immanuel Kant with the conclusion: "It is up to the perpetrators (parents) to do all they can to reconcile the victims (children) with their existence." Florian himself answers his question about how this can be achieved: “By drawing on our experience with the goal of giving our children the ability to self-determine. Make them people who can succeed in bringing new life to the world. ”

The term mastery goes like a fiery thread throughout the book. The Flaßpöhler / Werner couple on and between the lines also makes it clear that without having found the right partner – what they consider themselves to be blessed with – they would never have ventured into the parenting adventure.

Reader's summary: Creating a new human being is the most natural thing in the world – and at the same time an irreversible leap into the unknown.

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