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DifferencesRe-reading Beauvoir and Irigaray$
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Emily Anne Parker and Anne van Leeuwen

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190275594

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190275594.001.0001

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Material Life

Material Life

Bergsonian Tendencies in Simone de Beauvoir’s Philosophy

(p.21) Chapter 1 Material Life

Alia Al-Saji

Oxford University Press

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.

Keywords:   Beauvoir, Bergson, material feminism, life, possibility

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