Sunday, May 10, 2009

75a Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir is the last in the group of existentialist philosophers in my 100 list. She was a (kind of) companion of Jean-Paul Sartre and as the picture on the wall here shows, they were united after death in one grave.

The central issue in the philosophy of Simone de Beauvoir was the distance between the self and the other. We are as humans a Being-for-itself, while the rest of reality is a Being-in-itself.

But our consciousness is always a consciousness of something, it is intentionally, directed to the object. And therefore also the people around us are only objects to me, an object in the world and never another consciousness.

We are fundamentally separated from our fellowman and doomed to live a life in solitude. The main question for Simone de Beauvoir is how we yet can live TOGETHER with the other.

She tries to reconcile the individualistic starting-point of existentialism with an ethical perspective, in which love, friendship and compassion with your fellowman are the leading themes.

Against pure consciousness Simone de Beauvior pitches the unity of body and consciousness. We are NOT only consciousness, but we are a unity of body and mind, which we experience in emotion. In the emotion we become a psychophysiological unity and in this dimension we can meet the other.

While for Sartre emotions were a show of bad faith, for her emotion was a positive experience which allowed us to get in close contact with the other.

When body and consciousness are one as well in us as in the other, then the meeting of the physical other is also a meeting with his consciousness. Thus is the emotional dimension the place of a real contact with the other.

She herself told , that she had a difference of opinion with Sartre about emotion from the very first beginning: "He had, so he said, no sense for all those confusing physical reactions, intense heartbeat, shivers or dizziness, that paralized verbal communication".

A beautiful illustration of the philosophy of Simone de Beauvoitr is this: her essay "Pyrrhus et Cinéas (1944)" begins thus:

" I have known a child that cried because the son of the janitor had died. His parents let him cry, but got irritated eventualy. "He wasnt your brother, was he?'...The child has wiped his tears."

The parents were wrong, so she continues. It is true that the little boy is not my younger brother, but when I cry about him, he no longer is a stranger. Who will be my fellowman, can not be determined in advance: my tears are decisive.

And here she is so far apart from Satre. In the opinion of Simone de Beauvoir, the world reveals itself to us in emotion. Only in emotions we meet the other.

To Sartre this is an illusion. Also experiencing emotion is according to him a conscious choice. Our status of isolated consciousness is therefore unescapable.

At the very end thus our fellowman is never someone with whom I can share something, but only a phenomenon that appears in my consciousness.

Here Sartre hold a very solipsistic view, which Simone de Beauvoir refused to support. And it is up to you to draw your own conclusions.

The Discussion

[13:22] Herman Bergson: So this was my first lecture on Simone de Beauvoir..:-)
[13:22] Laila Schuman: Sartre is sooooooooo male... like so many men
[13:23] Laila Schuman: hhhmmmmph
[13:23] Herman Bergson: That was my feeling too. Laila
[13:23] Gudrun Odriscoll: I did not know that men were male lol
[13:23] Herman Bergson: I had to restrain myself bringing this up
[13:24] Herman Bergson: the word masculine?
[13:24] AristotleVon Doobie: I think those are statements of misunderstanding or misinterpretation
[13:24] Herman Bergson: macho?
[13:24] Markos Waechter: Not all emotions are a show of bad faith for Sartre. Shame, for example, is an authentic emotion, no?
[13:24] Markos Waechter: And doesn't de Beauvoir think some emotions are in bad faith as well?
[13:25] AristotleVon Doobie: Society teaches male to suppress emotions
[13:25] Herman Bergson: Yes Markos...that rings a bell...had something to do with our physical presence
[13:26] Laila Schuman: In the emotion we become a psychophysiological unity and in this dimension we can meet the other.
[13:26] Herman Bergson: No Aristotle..according to Sartre emotion is a conscious choice too
[13:26] Gudrun Odriscoll: sorry washing machine in RL leaked, got distracted, very female task washing, macho - I did not refer to anything spedific
[13:26] Laila Schuman: it would be hard to have that kind of experience during intimacy with someone like sartre
[13:27] Cailleach Shan: Do you think Simone's attitudes were influenced by Satre's menage e trois?
[13:27] Mickorod Renard: maybe this was why they got on so well
[13:27] Markos Waechter: Sartre talked a great deal about intimacy, seduction, desire, drawing the transcendence of the other into his or her body, etc. I think de Beauvoir got all that stuff directly from Sartre
[13:27] Gudrun Odriscoll: caill you got a point, I think
[13:28] Vladimir Apparatchik: I think modern psychology and neuroscience tells us that de Beauvoir was right and Sartre wrong - emotion is absolutely crucial to brain function
[13:28] Herman Bergson: I think you read in Simone de Beauvoir and in Sartre the classic story of a complex relationship...
[13:28] Gudrun Odriscoll: vlad, emotion is part of our being, we cannot control or decide not having them,
[13:28] Samuel Okelly: sartre is reported to have said he lied to his intimate female friends (for the sake of appeasment)- and when pushed he said especialy SdB
[13:29] Vladimir Apparatchik: I agree Gudrun
[13:29] Herman Bergson: Cailleach has a point definitely
[13:29] Cailleach Shan: True Gudrun, however we can make a choice that emotion not drive our lives.
[13:29] Herman Bergson: Indeed Cailleach
[13:29] Mickorod Renard: she was a feminist and probably prefered the divide between them
[13:30] Vladimir Apparatchik: I think we have to distinguish between emotion and being emotional
[13:30] AristotleVon Doobie: men choose to either diplay or hide their emotions, women are more free to express them
[13:30] Gudrun Odriscoll: cailleach, this choice is more dilusion, but we can learn to to be overwhelmed by emotions, via cbt, via life, via getting fed up with drama (certain emotions)
[13:30] AristotleVon Doobie: because of the gift of nurturing
[13:30] Gudrun Odriscoll: not to be overwhelmed
[13:31] Herman Bergson: be honest..
[13:31] Herman Bergson: when writing my lecture I saw the female argumentation for life against a very rational man
[13:31] arabella Ella: hi sorry i am late today
[13:31] Markos Waechter: When Sartre said we are free with respect to our emotions, I don't think he meant we could choose whether to have them or not. Just that we are never completely subject to them, and thus are responsible for them
[13:31] Herman Bergson: I understand SdBeauvoir
[13:32] AristotleVon Doobie: yes, Markos we have them, admit it or not
[13:32] Samuel Okelly: isnt how we respond to our emotions an important part of the human condition? I am inclined to agree SdB in so far as "only in emotions we meet the other."
[13:32] Herman Bergson: Indeed Markos...emotions dont justify the choice, according to him
[13:33] Herman Bergson: She has a point there Samuel, I agree
[13:34] AristotleVon Doobie: I agree Sam, the warmth of a relationship comes from the emotions
[13:34] Vladimir Apparatchik: I think we also have to distinguish between emotion and feeling
[13:34] Osrum Sands: to say that "only" in emotions do we meet each other appears to be trying to draw a very long bow.
[13:34] AristotleVon Doobie: hmmm, Vlad how so?
[13:34] Vladimir Apparatchik: emotion can be unconscious
[13:35] Cailleach Shan: I sometimes think there are really only two emotions. Love and fear... all can be traced back to either one or the other.
[13:35] Herman Bergson: That is only true if you accept the model that we are a subconscious + a consciousness
[13:35] Vladimir Apparatchik: emotion is deep-wired in the brain
[13:36] Vladimir Apparatchik: other animals have those structures
[13:36] Cailleach Shan: Simone chose love, Satre chose fear.
[13:36] Mickorod Renard: its a defence mechanism
[13:36] Herman Bergson: Nice observation Cailleach
[13:36] Vladimir Apparatchik: feeling is perhaps human and is in the higher brain areas
[[13:36] Samuel Okelly: i see an honesty to emotion that speaks volumes about the person
[13:37] Mickorod Renard: i like that sam
[13:37] Gudrun Odriscoll: I think there are so many models, but emotion is part of our human condition, our upbringing, it is hardwired like feeling hot and cold, though of course if one has a sensory problem, one might not feel hot or cold, and with a certain problem one might not have emotions
[13:37] AristotleVon Doobie: Is Cailleach's comment typical of male/female thinking?
[13:37] AristotleVon Doobie: Lovers fear
[13:38] Gudrun Odriscoll: I mean one has emotions in a different way, like people with Aspergers
[13:38] Mickorod Renard: maybe Sartre fought his corner cos of the feeling of competition from her
[13:38] Vladimir Apparatchik: I think the distinction is more between empathetic and systematic
[13:39] Gudrun Odriscoll: Delaide to Caileach, I agree with B love and S fear
[13:39] Herman Bergson: Yes that makes sense to me too Gudrun
[13:40] Mickorod Renard: me too,,and she was identified as a better philo in her time
[13:40] AristotleVon Doobie: I think the obivous difference in these two philosophers is mainly gender oriented
[13:40] Herman Bergson: you mean better than Sartre Mickorod?
[13:40] Mickorod Renard: according to what i read,,yes
[13:41] Herman Bergson: Oh...didnt know that...
[13:41] Cailleach Shan: Were they in competition?
[13:41] Mickorod Renard: I think so
[13:41] Herman Bergson: But it is a question ..better on what criteria..
[13:41] Osrum Sands: Would some one like to comment --- Is gender socilay or biological determined
[13:42] Mickorod Renard: i recognise that Herman ,,but in their minds,,status may have mattered
[13:42] Vladimir Apparatchik: both
[13:42] Herman Bergson: Ok
[13:42] Cailleach Shan: I suspect both Os.
[13:42] arabella Ella: one should perhaps ask whether S d B had any chance of the same success sartre had in such a male dominatedf environment
[13:42] Herman Bergson: I would say both too, Osrum
[13:42] AristotleVon Doobie: yes Arabella
[13:42] Osrum Sands: that in its self raises many Questions
[13:43] Osrum Sands: and possible outcomes
[13:43] Vladimir Apparatchik: But De Beauvoir though cultural didnt she?
[13:43] Herman Bergson: We will address that issue in the next lecture on Simone de Beauvoir Osrum
[13:43] Osrum Sands: ok
[13:43] Cailleach Shan: I never thought of philosophers being concerned with 'success'! Do you mean attempting to get everyone to think the same way as they do?
[13:43] AristotleVon Doobie: the gender acceptance atmospher would determine who is considered the better
[13:43] Herman Bergson: You are not born as a woman, you become on.
[13:44] Herman Bergson: that is what she said
[13:44] arabella Ella: Cail ... success in the sense of recognition
[13:44] Mickorod Renard: they both attended the same school of philo and satre came 1st and her 2nd in exams
[13:44] Gudrun Odriscoll: social conditioning, she is right to an extend, but what about biological difference
[13:44] Alarice Beaumont: well.. think somehow she is wrong there
[13:44] Osrum Sands: she is distinguishing between being female and being a woman then
[13:44] Osrum Sands: ?
[13:45] AristotleVon Doobie: we all start out as female and biology creates the male, nurturing determines the behavior
[13:45] Osrum Sands: Good point Aris
[13:45] Herman Bergson: Yes Osrum...she points at the social aspects of becoming a person
[13:45] arabella Ella: it would be interesting to see what would happen to a biological female brought up as a male in a male environment
[13:46] Mickorod Renard: she was to a degree
[13:46] Alarice Beaumont: well... still you do thinks like a woman Arabella..
[13:46] AristotleVon Doobie: isnt that what is called a Tom Boy, Arabella?
[13:46] Cailleach Shan: lol I can help you there ara. I thought I was a boy until I was 12 years old...
[13:46] Mickorod Renard: her farther wanted a boy but substituted her instead
[13:46] Alarice Beaumont: they monitored something like that already
[13:46] arabella Ella: really Cail ... sound good to me!
[13:46] Cailleach Shan: It was :)
[13:46] Gudrun Odriscoll: aristotle do you refer to mitochondria?
[13:47] Gudrun Odriscoll: cail, and my father thought I was a boy till I was seven
[13:47] Cailleach Shan: Hahahahahaha.....
[13:47] Vladimir Apparatchik: there is data on this - for example the boys with genital disorders at bitrth that were operated on and brought up as girls
[13:47] Herman Bergson: My father thought that all the time about me..:-)
[13:47] arabella Ella: no Ari I mean ... what do we really mean when we say 'a woman' ... the biological or the social elements or both? (in our perception)
[13:47] Osrum Sands: Herman are you going to touch on SdB's thougths on the motivation to action
[13:48] Herman Bergson: There will be a second lecture Osrum
[13:48] Osrum Sands: ta
[13:48] Gudrun Odriscoll: herman, good for you, good father
[13:48] arabella Ella: IMO what S de B meant is that what we consider as 'woman' is more the social when compared to the biolgical
[13:49] Osrum Sands: sorry to break the line of thought
[13:49] Herman Bergson: She was talking about the social aspects of being a woman not the biological ones
[13:49] Vladimir Apparatchik: but ara I agree but she underplayed the biological component as well
[13:50] Herman Bergson: what do you mean Vladimir?
[13:50] AristotleVon Doobie: my thinking is that emotions themselves are primordial, the social skills are cerbral
[13:50] arabella Ella: why Vlad?
[13:50] Vladimir Apparatchik: we now understand that there are biological differences in brains , on average, between men and women
[13:50] Laila Schuman: i agree with Ari
[13:51] Cailleach Shan: I think that's true Ari
[13:51] Mickorod Renard: me too ari
[13:51] Herman Bergson: Those are physiological differences maybe Vladimir....but it is a long ride to get to conclusions on personality development from there
[13:51] arabella Ella: yes Vlad but how could de B have known that?
[13:51] Vladimir Apparatchik: and men tend, on average, to have more "systematic" brains and women have "empathetic" - according to the theories of Baron-Cohen at Cambridge
[13:51] Gemma Cleanslate: CORRECT
[13:52] Vladimir Apparatchik: I agree - she couldn't have known that
[13:52] Cailleach Shan: Vive la difference!!!!
[13:52] Herman Bergson: That is so culturally biased, Vladimir...
[13:52] AristotleVon Doobie: ahh, how bland the world without the difference
[13:52] Osrum Sands: but she could still experience it
[13:52] arabella Ella: her ideas are based on personal psycholgical and sociological observations
[13:52] Mickorod Renard: but then it was observed as a diference
[13:52] Herman Bergson: and philosophically questionable
[13:52] Mickorod Renard: even though it may have been an ilusion
[13:53] Vladimir Apparatchik: Herman - ideas move on - we've moved from the "blank slate" ideas
[13:53] Vladimir Apparatchik: modern science is showing that it is both cultural and biological
[13:54] arabella Ella: 'it'? the human brain Vlad?
[13:54] Herman Bergson: Well Vladimir....we could have a long debate on this issue....the brainscanners and psychology...but another time..:-)
[13:54] Vladimir Apparatchik: sorry Ari sloppy - I meant gender
[13:55] Mickorod Renard: do you think she was tormented sexually, between femanist and something else?
[13:55] Herman Bergson: I dont know Mickorod
[13:55] arabella Ella: emotionally, Mick I think not so much sexually
[13:55] Mickorod Renard: ok,,ta
[13:56] Vladimir Apparatchik: and gender differences in behavior , preferences etc
[13:56] Gudrun Odriscoll: sorry guys have to go, great discussion
[13:56] Mickorod Renard: bye gud
[13:56] AristotleVon Doobie: bey Gudrun
[13:56] Cailleach Shan: cu Gud
[13:56] arabella Ella: bye Gudrun
[13:56] Alarice Beaumont: bye Gudrun :-)
[13:56] Vladimir Apparatchik: bye Gudrun
[13:56] herman Bergson looks at the clock
[13:56] Herman Bergson: Hmm you are right Gudrun..:-)
[13:57] arabella Ella smiles
[13:57] Herman Bergson: Thank you all for the great discussion...
[13:57] Herman Bergson: we lost half of our class during battle....
[13:57] AristotleVon Doobie: Thank you, Professor
[13:57] Cailleach Shan: Yes, excellent thanks everyone... and thanks Herman.. you do good work!!
[13:57] Mickorod Renard: thank you Herman
[13:57] Alarice Beaumont: so we are having SDB again?
[13:57] Herman Bergson: yes Alarice ..definitely
[13:58] Alarice Beaumont: great!
[13:58] Gemma Cleanslate: see you tuesday
[13:58] AristotleVon Doobie: bye Gem
[13:58] Herman Bergson: Bye Gemma
[13:58] Alarice Beaumont: yes.. c u then
[13:58] arabella Ella: thank you so much Herman for today and for dedicating Tuesday to de B too!
[13:58] Alarice Beaumont: bye :-)
[13:58] Qwark Allen: ty herman
[13:58] arabella Ella: bye Gemma
[13:58] Qwark Allen: ty everyone
[13:58] AristotleVon Doobie: bye Alarice :)
[13:58] Samuel Okelly: i need to log off foks but thanks again herman - im looking forward to "SdB Part Deux" :)
[13:58] Qwark Allen: got to go
[13:58] Herman Bergson: She deserves it absolutely
[13:58] Qwark Allen: :-D
[13:58] Mickorod Renard: bye gemma
[13:58] arabella Ella: bye Qwark
[13:58] AristotleVon Doobie: a nod to Sam
[13:58] Alarice Beaumont: bye everyone
[13:58] Mickorod Renard: bye quark
[13:58] Vladimir Apparatchik: bye
[13:59] Cailleach Shan: Ah well, it was nice to be in the warmth of your sl world for a while Herman....:) Back to the cold frost..
[13:59] Mickorod Renard: bye sam
[13:59] Herman Bergson: Back into the cold Cailleach......
[13:59] Cailleach Shan: Bye everyone.
[13:59] AristotleVon Doobie: bye Cal
[13:59] Mickorod Renard: bye cail
[13:59] Herman Bergson: Bye Cailleach
[13:59] Vladimir Apparatchik: bye cail
[13:59] arabella Ella: bye Cail
[13:59] Cailleach Shan: Oh dear. my sim is down...
[14:00] Herman Bergson: I have a room for you to stay, problem..:-)
[14:00] Mickorod Renard: wherabouts are u in the UK Vlad?
[14:00] Cailleach Shan: lol.... ta...
[14:00] Vladimir Apparatchik: Manchester
[14:00] Osrum Sands: Well I shall just have to go and get in further touch with my femine side
[14:00] Mickorod Renard: ok,,I am near coventry
[14:00] Osrum Sands: cheers and toodoloo
[14:00] AristotleVon Doobie: LOL Os, be careful
[14:00] Herman Bergson: Do so so..:-)
[14:00] Cailleach Shan: Enjoy Os... it's fun.
[14:01] arabella Ella: hey Os let us know what happens when you do so pls
[14:01] arabella Ella: bye Os
[14:01] Herman Bergson: but dont get pregnant!! Osrum
[14:01] AristotleVon Doobie: LOL
[14:01] Osrum Sands: dont worry folks its part of me which I have persued for some time now -
[14:01] Vladimir Apparatchik: :)
[14:01] arabella Ella: perhaps you should consider a female avi Os?
[14:01] Vladimir Apparatchik: Maybe just at weekends Os?
[[14:02] Osrum Sands: its all good
[14:02] Vladimir Apparatchik: OK got to go - thanks very much again Herman
[14:02] AristotleVon Doobie: It is indeed
[14:02] Mickorod Renard: bye Vlad
[14:03] Vladimir Apparatchik: bye Mick
[14:03] Osrum Sands: Cheers all and thanks again
[14:03] Herman Bergson: Bye Vlad
[14:03] Mickorod Renard: bye Os
[14:03] AristotleVon Doobie: bye Vlad
[14:03] Vladimir Apparatchik: Cheers everyone

Posted by herman_bergson on 2008-06-09 04:25:15