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Simone de Beauvoir notes - Simone de Beauvoirs The Second...

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Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex is well known for its negative descriptions of the female body. 1 Several interpreters claim that Beauvoir presents the female body as a mere obstacle: being dominated by the cycles of menstruation, pregnancies, and nursing, the female body severely limits the free choice and self-fulfillment of the woman. Critics argue further that such a view of the female body is partial, and worse, biased by a male -- Sartrean or Cartesian -- point of view. Feelings of touch, contact, pressure, movement, tension, warmth and cold, pleasure and pain are localized on the surface of the body and in its different organs. Second, the living body appears as the immediate starting point of all spontaneous, free movement. TheIn a similar way, we relate to living bodies. We do not explain or predict the movements of hands, facial expressions, or bodily postures but try to understand them and respond to their appeals, calls, and demands. The primordial relations of the life-world are not causal but motivational. We know that Beauvoir studied some of Husserl’s works in detail. Beauvoir does not mention L´evinas in this context. 16 But she does point to Heidegger, which suggests the hypothesis that the basic concepts of embodiment she uses in her analysis of sexuality are to be found in Heidegger’s Being and Time . 17 Thus, Heidegger’s influence on The Second Sex is -- contrary to Beauvoir’s own words -- not in providing the concept of the living body, but rather in offering other central concepts, such as concepts of finitude and instrumentalityHer main aim, I will show, is neither defending women’s rights ( DS i 30; SS 28) nor explaining the destiny of the female sex by biological or social facts. Rather, Beauvoir wants to propose an ethical inquiry. Beauvoir rejects the naturalistic view according to which the sense and values of objects are independent of our activities. On the contrary, she argues, it is our activity that creates the sense and value that we find in the world. In The Second Sex she makes this claim
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