Centre for Continuing Education

Philosophy Course: Simone de Beauvoir

Philosophy. Study the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality and existence.

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Since the publication of the 2010 new, unabridged English translation of The Second Sex, there has been a growing interest in the extent and complexity of de Beauvoir’s philosophical ideas. Some of these ideas are: The nature and limits of human freedom (She Came to Stay, Pyrrhus and Cineas); The role of imagination in the authentic construction of self (The Ethics of Ambiguity); The phenomenology of sex and violence (“Must We Burn Sade?”); The mechanics of time in the construction of desire (All Men are Mortal); And her insightful work on aging, loss and death (Adieux: A Farwell to Sartre: Finitude, Passion and the Body). Beauvoir was also an astute political observer as the essays collected in Political Writings (2012) show. The course will cover her philosophical books, essays, and novels.

Content

This philosophy course will cover the following content:

Introduction and Biography

The connection between her life and work, and an introduction to some of the central issues of Beauvoir philosophy.

The metaphysical novel

She Came to Stay (1943) deals with the dynamics of desire; our relationship to time; and the temporal structure of our relationship to ourselves and others. It also introduces the issue of violence and its legitimacy in the quest for freedom. The work can also be read as a meditation on the philosophy of the German Idealist: Hegel.

The Philosophical Essay

Pyrrhus and Cineas (1944) From Part 1: “A man alone in the world would be paralyzed by the vanity of all of his goals. But man is not alone in the world.” The essay asks how we create values and what values are worth creating.

Literature and the Metaphysical Essay (1946)

Influenced by Husserl, focused on the significance of lived experience and how meaning is revealed in language.

The Ethics of Ambiguity (1947)

The Second Sex (1949)

Considered to be the foundational text of second wave feminism, we will reconsider the text using the unabridged 2010 translation (translated by C.Borde, S. Malovany-Chevallier) which has been hailed as returning her feminism to its broader existential and phenomenological implications.

Joy and Generosity.

Sartre may have said that ‘hell is other people’ but Beauvoir also explores the way we construct our identity through the recognition of ourselves in others.

“Must We Burn Sade” (1952)

This much discussed essay concerns the issues of how sexuality and freedom are connected together. It also discusses the ‘authenticity’ of desire, when sexuality is based on sadism.

The Mandarins (1954)

For which she won the prestigious French literary award. The novel is concerned with playing out the ambiguous nature of human existence: our drive for self-realization and our dependence on others.

Age, loss, death. A Very Easy Death (1964);

Coming of Age (1970) Adieux: A Farwell to Sarte: Finitude, Passion and the Body (1981).

Intended Audience

This philosophy course is suitable for personal interest learners: school, university students, adult and active retirees.

Delivery Style

This philosophy course will be delivered as an interactive lecture where questions and discussions are facilitated wherever possible.

Features

  • Expert trainers
  • Central locations
  • Small class sizes
  • Free, expert advice
  • Student materials – yours to keep
  • Statement of completion

What others say.

  • The presenter of this course always surprises and delights.

  • Another great course from this legendary presenter.

  • The tutor provided a very interesting course with beautifully prepared notes. The sessions were conducted to encourage audience participation and definitely expanded everyone’s knowledge in a most enjoyable way.