Beauvoir's Metaphysical Novel: Literature, Philosophy, and Ambiguity

In Ann Ward (ed.), Socrates and Dionysus: Philosophy and Art in Dialogue. Cambridge Scholars Press (2013)

Authors
Anna E. Mudde
University of Regina
Abstract
In this essay, I explore the ways that Beauvoir’s description of philosophical novels reveals her understanding of consciousness as a particular sort of ambiguity: that which not only gives the world meaning, but which also, necessarily, finds meaning in the world through the values, ideas, and objects given to it by others. It is through the philosophical (metaphysical) novel that Beauvoir finds a medium for the philosophical communication of ambiguity – that is, a medium for writing human being. More specifically, I consider the metaphysical stance Beauvoir is able to describe because of her commitment to philosophical literature. In writing, and in reading, fiction, what is manifest is both found and given, discovered and created; and the metaphysics of the novel offers a way to read philosophy as poeisis, poetry in the sense of bringing-forth or revealing worldly meaning, in ways that are ambiguously particular and universal.
Keywords literature  ambiguity  metaphysics  Beauvoir  consciousness
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