The next session of the Camden Philosophical Society reading and discussion group will be on Tuesday, Feb. 20, and will focus on works of 20th Century French philosopher and public intellectual Simone de Beauvoir. This reflects a change in our regular monthly meeting date. Beginning in February, the Society will gather on the third Tuesday of each month, instead of the first Tuesday, as before. Time and place are otherwise unchanged. The discussions are from 4-6 pm in the Picker Room of the Camden Public Library. All are welcome. The February discussion will be led by Susan Wright.
Continuing our study of existentialism and phenomenology, we’ll view these two philosophic schools from the vantage point of “the second sex.” Simone de Beauvoir, too often a footnote to the life and work of Jean Paul Sartre, is probably best known for her book The Second Sex. Less well known is her extensive work exploring the individual’s freedom in a constrained physical existence (facticity), the tension between the individual and The Other, and the struggle to maintain and acknowledge our embedded individual differences while allowing others the same and thereby binding us all in union.
Although The Second Sex is considered the original bible for Feminism, Beauvoir refused to label herself a feminist initially. By the mid 1970’s she grew into that role but, in general, she was not comfortable with many absolutes such as the Christian concept of God and the abstractions of Humanity, Country, and Science. She claimed these demanded, “the individual’s renunciation of freedom into a static Cause.” Rather, her intent with “The Second Sex” was to continue the dialogue of Self and Other from the facticity of her sex. One of her most famous quotes, “One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman” describes the pressures to conform to society’s definitions of and expectations for “The Other.” It also highlights the tension that all “Others” experience as they struggle to assert their uniqueness but still realize their full potential as a member of society. Beauvoir maintains that the desire for personal freedom must not stand alone without responsibility towards others; without a commitment to others’ freedom what Simone calls our “projects” will fail and end in absurdity.
For copies of the readings, please email Sarah Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org.