How to Be Multiple

The Philosophy of Twins

Helena de Bres
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In this book, Helena de Bres - a twin herself - argues that twinhood is a unique lens for examining our place in the world and how we relate to other people. Deftly weaving together literary and cultural history, philosophical enquiry and personal experience, de Bres examines such thorny issues as binary thinking, objectification, romantic love and friendship, revealing the limits of our individualistic perspectives. In this illuminating, entertaining book, wittily illustrated by her twin sister, de Bres ultimately suggests that to consider twinhood is to imagine the possibility of a more interconnected, capacious human future. In 1875, Charles Darwin’s cousin Francis Galton noted the scientific usefulness of single-egg twins being genetically identical. It follows, Galton pointed out, that any differences between a pair of them can’t be explained by differences in their genes, but must be due to variation in their environments. Twins have been used in many times and places for intellectual purposes, as tools to think with. In art and myth, they’re employed as symbols of duality, wholeness, trickiness, creativity, social conflict, and perfect or pathological love, and as ways to explore distinctions between self and other, mind and body, male and female, and similarity and difference, period. Twins are also objects of desire within the entertainment industry and the consumer market more broadly.

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