Bergsonian Tendencies in Simone de Beauvoir’s Philosophy
By reading Beauvoir with Bergson, I reconfigure the relation of life and existence in Beauvoir’s philosophy. I claim neither clear-cut influence nor conscious appropriation, but offer a reading that makes sense of what were hidden or contradictory aspects of Beauvoir’s texts. I find in The Second Sex a tension between two philosophical directions: (i) a philosophy of existence that privileges consciousness as the taking-up and transcendence of life, and (ii) a tentative temporality that understands life in terms of tendencies subject to social-historical elaboration. Which frame is at play makes a difference for how Beauvoir is understood. I extend this method of reading to The Ethics of Ambiguity, using Bergson’s understanding of creation of possibility as a lens through which to read Beauvoir’s concept of wanting to disclose being. Here, I problematize Beauvoir’s concept of oppression in light of her equation of Arab and Muslim women with the trope of life.
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