In Shannon M. Mussett & William S. Wilkerson (eds.), Beauvoir and Western Thought From Plato to Butler. pp. 153-170 (2012)

Margaret A. Peg Simons
Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville
Simone de Beauvoir’s early enthusiasm for the philosophy of Henri Bergson (1859-1941)—denied in her 1958 autobiography, Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter—is a surprising discovery in her 1927 handwritten student diary, as I reported in 1999 and explored at more length in 2003 (Simons 1999; Simons 2003). Discovered by Sylvie Le Bon de Beauvoir after Beauvoir’s death in 1986 and now housed in the Bibliothèque nationale, Beauvoir’s student diary first appeared in print in the 2006 volume, Diary of a Philosophy Student: 1926-27, followed in 2008 by the French publication, Cahiers de jeunesse: 1926-1930. Since my 1999 analysis of the 1927 diary, the publication of the 1926 diary and other posthumously discovered texts has deepened and complicated the evidence of Bergson’s influence.1 In this chapter, I propose to take up and expand upon my earlier analyses in the light of this new evidence, arguing that Beauvoir’s methodological turn to the description of immediate experience, especially her method of writing philosophy in literature and her lifelong interest in describing the subjective experience of time, drew upon Bergson’s philosophy before her first encounter with Husserl’s phenomenology which may have come as early as 1927; that her concept of bad faith and interest in exposing distortions in perception and thinking, as in the chapters in The Second Sex on myths about women, drew upon Bergson’s philosophy long before she had read Marx; and that her earliest formulation of the problem of the Other drew upon Bergson’s distinction between the “social self and the deep self,” two years before she met Jean-Paul Sartre and two decades before she first read Hegel’s Phenomenology.
Keywords Diary of a Philosophy Student  Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter  Description of immediate experience  philosophy in literature  subjective experience of time
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The Ethics of Ambiguity.Simone de Beauvoir - 1948 - New York: Philosophical Library.

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