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The Philosophy of Autobiography$
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Christopher Cowley

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780226267890

Published to University Press Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226268088.001.0001

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date: 14 December 2017

From “I” to “We”

From “I” to “We”

Acts of Agency in Simone de Beauvoir’s Philosophical Autobiography

Chapter:
(p.193) 9 From “I” to “We”
Source:
The Philosophy of Autobiography
Author(s):

J. Lenore Wright

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226268088.003.0010

The aim of this chapter is to analyze the ways in which “being a woman”—being a woman philosopher, specifically—positions Simone de Beauvoir to produce a form of philosophical autobiography that is grounded in the self and the self-other relation. Beauvoir’s dual stance—her “double voice” to employ JoAnn Pilardi’s phrase—is rare in autobiographical work. To explore this element of her work, the chapter is divided into two parts: (1) I, Simone and (2) We, Women. Part One shows how Beauvoir’s autobiographical reflections challenge traditional conceptions of the self by moving between the particular and the universal and jettisoning the self-other distinction. Part two maintains that Beauvoir’s commitment to the particular generates a distinctive voice for women philosophers, one rooted in the ontological and rhetorical dimensions of phenomenal experience. By elevating concrete experience within her philosophical analyses, Beauvoir enacts agency in both a philosophical and a political sense.

Keywords:   Simone de Beauvoir, woman, self, other, ontological, rhetorical, universal, particular

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