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PHIL 2170 Lecture Notes - Simone De Beauvoir, Roger Scruton, Grammatical Gender

Course Code
PHIL 2170
Samantha Copeland

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Monday, February 7, 2011
Thesis Statement:
Be specific, narrow, interesting, suggest your argument
Exposition of views, arguments, concepts discussed, support arguments, objections,
Simone de Beauvoir
Feminism was self-defeating.
French intellectual.
‘Second Sex’
“Existence precedes essence” – Gives a defining characteristic about who you are. Born
with these characteristics, not an accident who you are
We are born free – ‘Radical Freedom’ – free to manipulate within your own
‘Bad Faith’ – When we have faith in what people tell us who we are
Making an existentialist effort in exposing bad faith in our lives.
“What peculiarly signalizes the situation of woman is that she- a free and autonomous
being like all human creatures – nevertheless find herself living in a world where men
compel her to assume the status of Other. (p.577)
Points out as women are judges – judged comparatively to men
Points to a cultural influence
“If there should be men who also felt that desire for complete abandonment, upon my
word, they would not be men” (Nietzsche in de Beauvoir, p.577)
Loses the comfort and safety of coming home
Cultural restrictions on masculinity – very way which we act/let ourselves feel
As existentialists conceive – making someone into an “Other” is the worst thing you can
do. They become an object instead of a human being.
Women’s choices have been constrained, don’t get respect for making choices, rather,
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making choices in light of their man; a loss of autonomy. A specific objectification; by
telling people who they are or should be, we are making them objects.
“The fact is that we have nothing to do here with laws of nature…” (p.578)
We experience love and intimacy in different ways.
Women’s role is impossible to be in because it’s impossible to escape “Other”
Differences imposed by society – constraints imposed by expectations of society.
Internalized feelings become important
“What a woman wants in the first place is to serve” (p.581)
“Justified” – if I can’t make choices in an autonomous way, existentialism says
you’re living in bad faith
Women see freedom through marriage
Generalizing through cultural attitudes
Not only are the choices of men restricted, our own attractions are being defined
by cultural expectations. Culture says we should desire certain characteristics (ex.
Women look for freedom, men looking for unconditional love)
“An authentic love should assume the contingence of the other…”
If we’re autonomous, we can have authentic love
Women have unrealistic expectations
A good relationship would be an inter-relation. Neither would depend upon the
other for freedom or salvation. Neither would have to be radically free all the
Scruton says we can’t shake contingencies. Gender has implications for who we
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
De Beauvoir Cont’d
Authentic love = interrelation between individuals who are independently
autonomous and free BUT
oGender in its current formation denies women freedom of choice and self;
oSo women seek salvation [takes away from the authentic experience]
through relations with men, who have freedom of choice and self;
oAnd men see women as ‘other’ than themselves and not as ‘like’ them
(free selves), so they possess women as objects;
oSo love is experienced differently by men [possess the object] and women
[seek salvation] and authentically by neither gender
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