How to Be Multiple: The Philosophy of Twins
Philosopher Helena de Bres uses the curious experience of being a twin as a lens for reconsidering our place in the world, with illustrations by her identical twin Julia.
Wait, are you you or the other one? Which is the evil twin? Have you ever switched partners? Can you read each other’s mind? Twins get asked the weirdest questions by strangers, loved ones, even themselves. For Helena de Bres, a twin and philosophy professor, these questions are closely tied to some of philosophy’s most unnerving unknowns. What makes someone themself rather than someone else? Can one person be housed in two bodies? What does perfect love look like? Can we really act freely? At what point does wonder morph into objectification?
Accompanied by her twin Julia’s drawings, Helena uses twinhood to rethink the limits of personhood, consciousness, love, freedom, and justice. With her inimitably candid, wry voice, she explores the long tradition of twin representations in art, myth, and popular culture; twins’ peculiar social standing; and what it’s really like to be one of two. With insight, hope, and humor, she argues that our reactions to twins reveal our broader desires and fears about selfhood, fate, and human connection, and that reflecting on twinhood can help each of us—twins and singletons alike—recognize our own multiplicity, and approach life with greater curiosity, imagination, and courage.
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