As such, it eschews neat and tidy ideological divisions in its essence, and tend to obliquely cast a searching light on the rich ambiguity of this queer dual nature we experience as sexual beings, and the implications this has for our sense of identity and our experience of meaning.
De Beauvoir 's work finds insight not in ideological formulations, but in the rivetin and possibly unanswerable questions brought up by the tensions and dualities that seem intrinsic to the human condition, and that, indee, the ideologue in his/her search for the perfectly defined political dogma will always and of necessity gloss over.
She shows how, in the attemp to know our condition, philosophy can contain, inform and direct all partial disciplinary inquiries and perspectives ( a modern and biographical take on the more traditional ideal of philosophy as a “ queen of the sciences ”) .When most people think of self-knowledge, they end to conceive this process in purely subjectivist terms, in short, in terms of looking into material accessible only to the individual consciousness.
In ontrast, I suspect she would sympathize with Mann 's insight in The Magic Mountain: “ man lives not only his personal life, as an individual, but lso, consciously or unconsciously, the life of his epoch and his contemporaries. ” As such, the work goes far beyond our culture 's subjectivist approach to self-knowledge, in order to illuminate us to ourselves in our guise as participants in the unfolding of larger historical patterns.Our lives are shaped by the accreted sediment of decisions made by past generations; within the domain circumscribed by those decisions, we exist.
Self-knowledge thus implies far more than insight into personal experience; it necessitates developing a historical consciousness of the inherited patterns of meaning-making that we have available for shaping our individual consciousness of self as it emerges at this given moment in time.
Nonetheles, to appreciate the female self as it has been historically constrained to develop, she targets her philosophical analysis to the representational tools- and their limits- that she has had available for her self-construction.The problem of incompletely formulated selfhood that she starts from, de Beauvoir takes great pains to suggest, is not erely a piece of her idiosyncratic subjective biographical trajectory, but is, in sense, our problem as well, to the extent that we are inheritors of a cultural heritage that does not afford us with the semantic tools that we need in order to lay claim to our experience through its shaping.
The inherited semantic tools, far from helping woman shape her experience so as to converge on an autonomous perspective, instead restrict her to an " immanent " identity wholly defined by her contingent web of relations.
Thi young oman, growing to consciousness of self, must find herself in relation to an inheritance of meanings predominantly shaped by her male Other, for whom she can only figure as an object that exists solely in relation to his aspirations and needs.
Her fulfilment as an existent – as well as her fitness in the world- are both defined in instrumental terms, in contex to her capacity to fulfil his need for meaning.
Such can nly be provided by a richer relationship with her world, established intrinsically, through the taproot of her autonomy. “ The eyes of others our prisons; their thoughts our cages, ” Woolf aptly put it, and de Beauvoir concurs: others' gazes determine to a very profound extent the shape of our destinies as women.
She would like to be invisible; it frightens her to become flesh and to show flesh. ” Thus, a growing woman learns that she, as an embodied being, is onl just a locus for meaning-making, but, even more urgently for her survival and flourishing in the world, is an object-for-others.
As she matures, woman is progressively constrained to inhabit her subject-stance only partially, to the extent that meanings gleaned from the Other 's, often alienating perspective afford her indirect access to her self.
She thus finds herself in a rather impossible position, internalizing a tradition of self-alienating representations made of her, which supposedly exhaust her nature, while no being radically alien to this tradition in the innermost truth of her experience, for which she has inherited few clear words that she an make entirely her own, few artistically embodied meanings, and lmost no usable philosophical formulations.
What self can she scrounge up out of such scattered fragments? This dissociation from lived experience and personal meaning-making is a big price to pay for social survival.
he tension created by attempting to inhabit a subject stance only through self-alienating representational tools is only part of the conflict de Beauvoir finds in a ma 's coming-to-consciousness.
Wittgenstein seems to have got it better than de Beauvoir: “ The philosophical I is not he man, not the human body or the human soul of which psychology treats, but the metaphysical subject, the limit- not a part of the world. ” I become a aware of my sexuality only when confronted by another, and shoved back into being just a partial being, one item of the notio of human nature – a woman.
Well, no, as she describes those rare moments in nature when one fully inhabits oneself as a center of meaning-making consciousness, uncircumscribed by any Other 's gaze.
This implies a strange double meaning for her foundational self-recognition as a woman: she is, simultaneously, one part of the sexually dual form human nature manifests, and an autonomous, irreducible unity in her own right.
( ...) Ensnared by nature, the pregnant woman is plant and animal, a stock-pile of colloids, an incubator, an egg; she scares children proud of their young, straight bodies and makes young people titter contemptuously because she is a human being, a conscious and free individual, who has become life 's passive instrument. " Motherhood is just such a time when one 's usual notion of autonomous, individual selfhood is terrifyingly overthrown.
A lot of the wor of " woman " and " man, " she ays, was written over and distorted by a great deal of symbolic mechanisms gone wrong and taking on a life of their own, thereby blocking the spontaneous expression of our true sexual nature.
Her unique historico-philosophical approach to self-knowledge encourages us to appreciate our lives by placing our most intimate personal experience in the terminolog of the broadest perspective attainable at our historic moment.