Simone de Beauvoir and biologism : a phenomenological re-reading of "The Givens of biology"
Rodier, Kristin Anne
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In this essay I defend Simone de Beauvoir against the charge that her chapter “The Givens of Biology” from The Second Sex is biologistic. A work can be said to make the mistake of biologism when it assigns a particular nature or essence to human beings based on their biology. De Beauvoir has been accused of making this mistake because her critics have not understood the philosophical landscape in which she was working. Not only have they missed the subtleties of her arguments, but many formulated their criticisms from a poor translation, provided by H.M. Parshley in 1952. In order to combat the decontextualizing of her theory I provide a conceptual backdrop that locates de Beauvoir’s work in relation to her philosophical influences, her contemporaries, and her own philosophical works that predate The Second Sex. I give a phenomenological re-reading of “The Givens of Biology” based on my situating of de Beauvoir. My work is expositional and argumentative to the point of dissuading the reader from understanding de Beauvoir not only as a biological essentialist, but also as holding especially negative views about women’s embodiment.
DegreeMaster of Arts (M.A.)
SupervisorHowe, Leslie A.
CommitteeDwyer, Philip; Da Silva, Helena; Relke, Diana M. A.
Copyright DateSeptember 2007