A different voice in the phenomenological tradition
Simone De Beauvoir and the ethic of care
In terms of her philosophical orientation, Simone de Beauvoir is usually identified merely as an existentialist. Up until now not enough attention has been paid to the phenomenological roots of her thought. Of course existentialism in its most well-known form, i.e., the early work of Jean-Paul Sartre, is itself an extension of the central phenomenological themes of Husserl and Heidegger. But Beauvoir, it can be argued, incorporates phenomenological perspectives into her work to an even greater degree than does Sartre. Witness, for instance, the way that she interweaves Merleau-Ponty's views about the lived body into her analysis of women's experience of their oppression in The Second Sex.1 Another central feature of Beauvoir's work is the way that it incorporates the foundational phenomenological concept of the situated subject. A central tenet of phenomenology, fully validated by existentialism, is that the living subject always finds itself "in situation," that is, in a highly particular and particularized complex of circumstances. This insight founds much of Beauvoir's analysis in The Second Sex, especially in the second volume of the work, titled in the original "L'expérience vécue."2 Even Beauvoir's earlier writings on ethics, I have found, assume a phenomenological understanding of the subject as situated.3
Arp, K. (2000)., A different voice in the phenomenological tradition: Simone De Beauvoir and the ethic of care, in L. Fisher & L. Embree (eds.), Feminist phenomenology, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 71-81.
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