Nel Noddings, one of the central figures in the contemporary discussion of ethics and moral education, argues that caring--a way of life learned at home--can be extended into a theory that guides social policy. Tackling issues such as capital punishment, drug treatment, homelessness, mental illness, and abortion, Noddings inverts traditional philosophical priorities to show how an ethic of care can have profound and compelling implications for social and political thought. Instead of beginning with an ideal state and then describing a (...) role for home and family, this book starts with an ideal home and asks how what is learned there may be extended to the larger social domain. Noddings examines the tension between freedom and equality that characterized liberal thought in the twentieth century and finds that--for all its strengths--liberalism is still inadequate as social policy. She suggests instead that an attitude of attentive love in the home induces a corresponding responsiveness that can serve as a foundation for social policy. With her characteristic sensitivity to the individual and to the vulnerable in society, the author concludes that any corrective practice that does more harm than the behavior it is aimed at correcting should be abandoned. This suggests an end to the disastrous war on drugs. In addition, Noddings states that the caring professions that deal with the homeless should be guided by flexible policies that allow practitioners to respond adequately to the needs of very different clients. She recommends that the school curriculum should include serious preparation for home life as well as for professional and civic life. Emphasizing the importance of improving life in everyday homes and the possible role social policy might play in this improvement, _Starting at Home_ highlights the inextricable link between the development of care in individual lives and any discussion of moral life and social policy. (shrink)
This series presents issues which are central to 20th-century European thought, but unfamiliar to students of Anglo-American philosophy. In this book the author traces the development of the concept of situation through the work of Gabriel Marcel, Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir and Merleau-Ponty.
Simone de Beauvoir and the Politics of Ambiguity is the first full-length study of Beauvoir's political thinking. Best known as the author of The Second Sex, Beauvoir also wrote an array of other political and philosophical texts that together, constitute an original contribution to political theory and philosophy. Sonia Kruks here locates Beauvoir in her own intellectual and political context and demonstrates her continuing significance. Beauvoir still speaks, in a unique voice, to many pressing questions concerning politics: the values and (...) dangers of liberal humanism; how oppressed groups become complicit in their own oppression; how social identities are perpetuated; the limits to rationalism; and the place of emotions, such as the desire for revenge, in politics. In discussing such matters Kruks puts Beauvoir's ideas into conversation with those of many contemporary thinkers, including feminist and race theorists, as well as with historical figures in the liberal, Hegelian, and Marxist traditions. Beauvoir's political thinking emerges from her fundamental insights into the ambiguity of human existence. Combining phenomenological descriptions with structural analyses, she focuses on the tensions of human action as both free and constrained. To be human is to be a paradoxical being, at once capable of free choice and yet, because embodied, vulnerable to injury from others. Politics is thus a domain of complexly interwoven, multiple, human interactions that is rife with ambiguity, and where freedom and violence too often closely intertwine. Beauvoir accordingly argues that failure is a necessary part of political action. However, she also insists that, while acknowledging this, we should assume responsibility for the outcomes of what we do. (shrink)
: How should socially privileged white feminists (and others) address their privilege? Often, individuals are urged to overcome their own personal racism through a politics of self-transformation. The paper argues that this strategy may be problematic, since it rests on an over-autonomous conception of the self. The paper turns to Simone de Beauvoir for an alternative account of the self, as "situated," and explores what this means for a politics of privilege.
How should socially privileged white feminists address their privilege? Often, individuals are urged to overcome their own personal racism through a politics of self-transformation. The paper argues that this strategy may be problematic, since it rests on an over-autonomous conception of the self. The paper turns to Simone de Beauvoir for an alternative account of the self, as “situated,” and explores what this means for a politics of privilege.
Identity politics is important within feminism. However, it often presupposes an overly subjectivist theory of knowledge that I term an epistemology of provenance. I explore some works of feminist standpoint theory that begin to address the difficulties of such an epistemology. I then bring Sartre's account of knowledge in the Critique of Dialectical Reason to bear on these difficulties, arguing that his work offers tools for addressing them more adequately.
The "new materialisms' offer an important critique of 'human exceptionalism, however they tend to overstate their case by ignoring those qualities of freedom that remain distinctive to human life. The paper turns to Simone de Beauvoir to make an argument for a more modest human exceptionalism.
There was a day in March 2020 when I discovered I was old. There had, of course, been quite a few previous intimations of impending old age, but they had not “really” defined my being for me. Some years earlier, I had been surprised when people started to offer me their seat on a crowded bus or train. At first, I politely refused the seat; later, I decided that I would accept such invitations because declining seemed ungracious, and because accepting (...) would encourage this thoughtful behavior from which “others” would benefit. Recently, as my feet have begun to ache more, I have sometimes been happy to accept a seat on my own account. There have been other intimations too: some physical indications, such as needing a brighter light in order to read and stiffness in my knees. There have also been signs that my cultural, intellectual, and professional world, a world in which I have been deeply embedded, is passing: Students now live in an online media world that is alien to me, and a few of my colleagues have made it known that they find my research interests on Simone de Beauvoir a bit old-fashioned. But none of this actually defined me for myself as “old.” Surely, still an unremarkable, white, late-middle-aged woman, I did not think I “looked my age.” Surely, I had not yet become a member of that detested “foreign species” whose presence lurks within us all and that I, like most of us, so vehemently sought to deny. (shrink)
Over the course of the last four decades, William Leon McBride has distinguished himself as one of the most esteemed and accomplished philosophers of his generation. This volume—which celebrates the occasion of his seventy-fifth birthday—includes contributions from colleagues, friends, and formers students and pays tribute to McBride’s considerable achievements as a teacher, mentor, and scholar.
Marxism was an integral aspect of Beauvoir's political and theoretical orientation from the mid‐1940s onwards and it colors much of her writings. This chapter first locates Beauvoir in her politico‐intellectual milieu. It then traces the complex ways in which, throughout her works, she draws on materialist and humanistic aspects of Marxism while also often distancing herself from the more mechanistic Marxism of the French Communist Party.
The “new materialisms” offer an important critique of “human exceptionalism,” challenging deeply held conceptions of “man” as a “sovereign subject.” However, they tend to overstate their claims by ignoring those qualities of freedom that still remain distinctive to human life. This article turns to Beauvoir to make a case for a more “modest” human exceptionalism: while she also grounds the human inextricably in the material, Beauvoir offers fuller resources than do new materialisms for examining human freedom and human responsibility to (...) resist its oppression. (shrink)
Existentialism and phenomenology seem, at first glance, to constitute one of those rare strands of modern Western philosophy that converges productively with feminism. They form a tradition that opposes abstract, rationalist thought and is instead committed to elucidating concrete, “lived experience,” including experiences of embodiment and emotion. As such, they anticipate much “second‐wave” feminist thought that criticizes abstraction, beginning from accounts of women's concrete experiences and emphasizing the importance of personal politics. However, feminists engaged with the tradition have also cautioned (...) that the main canonical figures remained ensconced in masculinism, since their allegedly generic accounts of “human existence” were tacitly grounded in male experience. During the 1980s interest in existentialism and phenomenology waned, as notions of women's experience increasingly came under suspicion with the poststructuralist, or “postmodern,” turn in feminism. But in the last few years interest has grown again, as theorists have sought insights from the tradition that might move theory beyond the impasses that postmodernism now seems to some to present. (shrink)
In the light of a renewed interest today in forms of direct political participation, this paper explores the contributions of Sartre and Arendt to defending direct political action as an intrinsically valuable form of human freedom. Both thinkers note, however, that such forms of action and the ‘spaces of freedom’ in which they become possible are always fleeting and transitory. The paper argues that Sartre's account of the ways in which human action is always mediated and alienated by materiality is (...) important in accounting for this phenomenon. (shrink)
In the light of a renewed interest today in forms of direct political participation, this paper explores the contributions of Sartre and Arendt to defending direct political action as an intrinsically valuable form of human freedom. Both thinkers note, however, that such forms of action and the 'spaces of freedom' in which they become possible are always fleeting and transitory. The paper argues that Sartre's account of the ways in which human action is always mediated and alienated by materiality is (...) important in accounting for this phenomenon. (shrink)
THIS PAPER COMPARES THE WORK OF MERLEAU-PONTY WITH THAT OF MARCEL, TO WHOM HE IS SAID TO OWE A MAJOR INTELLECTUAL DEBT. ALTHOUGH THERE ARE APPARENT SIMILARITIES TO BE FOUND IN THEIR WORK, ESPECIALLY IN THEIR CONCEPTS OF "INCARNATION" AND "SITUATION," THERE ARE STRIKING DIVERGENCES IN THEIR VIEWS ABOUT "HISTORY." A STUDY OF THESE POINTS THE WAY TO AN EXPLORATION OF YET MORE FUNDAMENTAL DISAGREEMENTS BETWEEN THEIR SUPERFICIALLY SIMILAR "PHILOSOPHIES OF EXISTENCE.".