Michael Eskin

Biography

MICHAEL ESKIN was educated at Concordia College, the University of Munich and Rutgers University. A former fellow of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, he has taught at the University of Cambridge and at Columbia University. He has given workshops, lectured and published widely on literary, philosophical, ethical and cultural subjects, including: "Ethics and Dialogue in the Works of Lev⁠inas, Bakhtin, Mandel’shtam, and Celan"; "Poetic Affairs – Celan, Grünbein, Brodsky"; "17 Prejudices That We Germans Hold Against America and Americans and That Can’t Quite Be True" (published in German under the pseudonym ‘Misha Waiman’); "Philosophical Fragments of a Contemporary Life" (under the pseudonym ‘Julien David’); and "The DNA of Prejudice – On the One and the Many" (winner of the 2010 Next Generation Indie Book Award for Social Change); and "Yoga for the Mind: A New Ethic for Thinking and Being & Meridians of Thought" (with Kathrin Stengel). A frequent guest on radio programs throughout the US, Michael Eskin is a member of the Academy of American Poets and the PEN Center for German-Speaking Authors Abroad. He lives in New York City and is the cofounder of Upper West Side Philosophers, Inc.

Smashwords Interview

1. What inspired you to write about ‘parenthood’ as you did in "The Wisdom of Parenthood"?
As a father of three, I felt the need to articulate my views on what it means to be a parent to my children—to give them something that would not only allow them to better understand me as their father, but that would also be something they could turn to for inspiration and guidance should they ever choose to and be fortunate enough to become parents themselves. Laying out what I take to be the essence of parenthood—irrespective of how our children come to us, of how we become parents—was particularly important to me in light of my experience as both a biological and an adoptive parent confronted with our society’s deep-seated—if not always overtly expressed—bias in favor of biological parenthood as the only real kind parenthood.
2. How did this book come about?
Although we live in a world where, as Carlos Ball has aptly noted, “there are tens of thousands of children born every year ... who are not biologically related to all the adults who intend to be their parents, and who will actually function as such,” many among us continue to hold the view that true parenthood implies a mother and a father who conceive and, ideally, raise their offspring. Other forms of parenthood frequently find themselves tacitly relegated to second place. That this view of parenthood is still widely held becomes palpably evident in situations where parenthood would appear to go into crisis or is perceived to be failing: Think of all the situations in which you have heard of children and parents not getting along, or parents being at a loss as to how to deal with their children’s problems, troubles, or special needs, and someone will say, “no wonder—he is adopted!,” or “it’s not really their child, they had a donor!” Think of all the times you have heard someone marvel at or doubt the possibility of really loving a child that is not one’s “own flesh and blood.” Thus, I have frequently been given to understand by friends, family, and acquaintances that it is truly noble of me to have taken on another’s “flesh and blood” and to have been such an engaged and doting father to my adopted sons, while I have had no such comments on my relationship with my biological son—it being ostensibly assumed that I naturally and ineluctably love and care for my “own flesh and blood,” while merely having shouldered the morally commendable burden of raising another’s.

Thinking through these issues, I realized that I had something to offer to all parents, above and beyond my initial desire to primarily address my three sons—something that would allow any parent to re-conceive his or her role as a parent as well as the very meaning of parenthood in a more inclusive and non-prejudicial manner that would bring into sharp relief what all parenthood has in common, rather than distinguishing between classes of parenthood.
Read more of this interview.

Where to find Michael Eskin online


Where to buy in print


Books

The Wisdom of Parenthood: An Essay
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Series: Subway Line, no. 7. Price: $9.99 USD. Words: 7,110. Language: English. Published: October 31, 2013 by Upper West Side Philosophers, Inc.. Category: Nonfiction » Parenting » Adoption
THE WISDOM OF PARENTHOOD is a provocative meditation on the meaning, experience and practice of parenthood both as a universally human phenomenon across history and, more specifically, in the age of assisted reproduction, in vitro fertilization, gestational surrogacy, “third-party production,” international adoption and the transformation of the nuclear family with the rise of LGBT parenting.
Yoga for the Mind: A New Ethic for Thinking and Being & Meridians of Thought (2014 Living Now Book Award Winner)
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Series: Subway Line, no. 6. Price: $9.99 USD. Words: 24,900. Language: English. Published: May 2, 2013 by Upper West Side Philosophers, Inc.. Category: Nonfiction » Self-improvement » Motivation and inspiration
"Yoga for the Mind is Slow Thought for a Fast Life." We are constituted to think and reflect, to query and question, to seek answers and not stop at the answers we find. In short, we are philosophical creatures. So, how can we achieve more fulfilling lives as philosophical beings? This question is at the core of Yoga for the Mind, a rich philosophical supplement to the daily diet of existence.
The DNA of Prejudice: On the One and the Many
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Series: Subway Line, no. 2. Price: $9.99 USD. Words: 18,610. Language: English. Published: July 13, 2012 by Upper West Side Philosophers, Inc.. Category: Nonfiction » Philosophy » Social
Winner of the 2010 Next Generation Indie Book Award for Social Change. This book takes the reader through the many layers of meaning that accompany the word ‘prejudice’. By critically confronting the ways in which we think and speak about prejudice, Michael Eskin clears the path for a new understanding of prejudice as a concept, a phenomenon, and a lived experience.