Dividual Systems & Ultraneoteny

  • Elena Gagliasso Luoni


The forms of collective thinking are based on the concept of identitarian individuality and on the relation between individuality and alterity as external to the self and seem to be unaffected by the ontological fact that some beings – women – can be singular individuals for a long part of their life, and yet they may become dual (containing and interacting with the other) and returning to an individual state by a separation/loss of duality (what may be called dividuality). We refer to embryonic development or to pregnancy, to the birth or to the parturition and there are no words for referring to the unity of two that makes pregnancy and development an integrated process, and makes birth and parturition the same event, observed from two different standpoints.

Is questioning this categorial frame useful?

If languages are fundamentally embodied, and in predicating world or time they project forms of kinaesthesia and corporeality, where can we find meaningful definitions of reality that may encompass this specific state of embodiment: the embodiment of the two?

In order to explore this subject, two fields are especially interesting: the contemporary epigenetics and the studies of hominization.

An overview of contemporary bio-evolutionary knowledges may indirectly corroborate the theme of an individuality being both dual and dividual, since the scientific focus now highlights (more clearly than in the past) the interactive dynamics self/other in development as well in evolution. Paleoanthropology underlines the dual bond between structural and behavioural changes in the maternal body in new anthropoid species, and the interesting consequences of neonatal prematurity: we are ‘ultraneotenous’, with a complex celebralization, because we are also a particular dual system.


Individual feminism hominization ultraneoteny epigenetic frame language nature/nurture 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bianchi, D. W., & Fisk, N. M. (2007). Fetomaternal cell trafficking and stem cell debate. JAMA, 297(13), 1489–1491.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bleier, R. (1984). Science and gender: a critique of biology and its theories on women. Elmsford, NY: Pergamon Press.Google Scholar
  3. Bolk, L. (1926). On the problem of anthropogenesis. Verhandelingen Koninklyke Akademie van Wetenschappen, Amsterdam, 3, 465–475.Google Scholar
  4. Botti, C. (2007). Madri cattive: una riflessione su bioetica e gravidanza. Milano: Il Saggiatore.Google Scholar
  5. Butler, J. (2004). Undoing gender. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Celentano, M. (2000). L’etologia della conoscenza (p. 387). Napoli: La Città del Sole.Google Scholar
  7. Contessi, R., Mazzeo, M., & Russo, T. (Ed.) (2002). Linguaggio e percezione: le basi sensoriali della comunicazione linguistica (pp. 64–73). Roma: Carocci.Google Scholar
  8. Dawkins, R. (1976). The selfish gene. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Deacon, T. (1997). The symbolic species: The co-evolution of Language and Brain. New York: W.W. Norton.Google Scholar
  10. De Beauvoir, S. (1949). Le Deuxième Sexe. Paris: Gallimard.Google Scholar
  11. Dick, P. K. (1968). Do androids dream of electric sheep? New York: Doubleday.Google Scholar
  12. Duden, B. (2002). Die Gene in Kopf–der Foetus in Bauch. Berlin: Offizin Verlag.Google Scholar
  13. Firestone, S. (1970). The dialectic of sex: the case for feminist revolution. New York: William Morrow.Google Scholar
  14. Foucault, M. (2004). Naissance de la biopolitique: Cours au collège de France (1978–1979). Paris: Seuil.Google Scholar
  15. Fraire, M. (2002). Vecchie ragazze, donne nuove. In M. Fraire (Ed.). Lessico politico delle donne: teorie del femminismo (pp. 171–189). Milano: Franco Angeli (ed. or 1978).Google Scholar
  16. Gagliasso, E. (2007). Doppia appartenenza e parzialità situate. In E. Gagliasso & F. Zucco (Ed.), Il genere nel paesaggio scientifico (pp. 65–88). Roma: Aracne.Google Scholar
  17. Gilbert, S. F. (2006). Developmental biology. Cambridge, MA: Sinauer Associates.Google Scholar
  18. Gilligan, C. (1982). In a different voice: Psychological theory and women’s development. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Gould, S. J. (1977). Ontogeny and phylogeny. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Gould, S. J., & Vrba, E. (1982). Exaptation–A missing term in the science of form. Paleobiology, 8, 4–15.Google Scholar
  21. Griffero, T. (2003). Immagini attive: breve storia dell’immaginazione transitiva. Firenze: Le Monnier Università.Google Scholar
  22. Hager, L. (Ed.) (1997). Women in human evolution. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  23. Haraway, D. J. (1988). Situated knowledge. Feminist Studies, 14(3): 575–599.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hrdy, S. (1981). The woman that never evolved. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Hubbard, R. (1990). The politics of women’s biology. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Jablonka, E. & Lamb, M. (2005). Evolution in four dimensions: genetic, epigenetic, behavioral, and symbolic variation in the history of life. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  27. Keller, E. (2000). The century of the gene. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  28. Lakoff, G., & Johnson, M. (1999). Philosophy in the flesh: The embodied mind and its challenge to western thought. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  29. Merchant, C. (1979). The death of nature: women, ecology, and the scientific revolution. London: Harper & Row.Google Scholar
  30. Merchant, C. (1992). Radical ecology: the search for a livable world. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  31. Minelli, A. (2007). Forme del divenire: evo-devo: la biologia evoluzionistica dello sviluppo. Torino: Einaudi.Google Scholar
  32. Pancino, C., & D’Yvoire, J. (2006). Formato nel segreto: nascituri e feti tra immagini ed immaginario dal XVI al XXI sec. Roma: Carocci.Google Scholar
  33. Pievani, T. (2002). Homo Sapiens ed altre catastrofi: per un’archeologia della globalizzazione. Roma: Meltemi.Google Scholar
  34. Rose, H. (1994). Love, power, and knowledge: Towards a feminist transformation of the sciences. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  35. Rotilio, G. (2006). L’alimentazione degli ominidi fino alla rivoluzione agropastorale del neolitico. In G. Biondi, F. Martini, O. Rickards, & G. Rotilio (Eds.). In carne ed ossa (pp. 83–145). Bari: Laterza.Google Scholar
  36. Schiebinger, L. (1989). The mind has no sex? Women in the origins of modern science. Cambridge, MA/London: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  37. Schiebinger, L. (1999). Has feminism changed science? Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  38. Scott, J. W. (1996). Il ‘genere’: un’utile categoria di analisi storica. In P. Di Cori (Ed.), Altre storie: la critica femminista alla storia. Bologna: Clueb.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media B.V 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Facoltà di FilosofiaUniversità di Roma ‘La Sapienza’RomeItaly

Personalised recommendations