I’d like to echo Jess’s thoughts on Times‘s thoroughly obtuse take on Simone de Beauvoir, but I don’t think I see the same contemptible double-standard she does. After all, male philosophers a renowned for their raw, animalistic sex appeal,* as you can see from the above photo of Jean-Paul Sartre. It’s just a shame that de Beauvoir was in the frame too, frumping up the whole picture.
But while we’re on the topic of de Beauvoir, I should mention that I’ve recently been reading The Ethics of Ambiguity. De Beauvoir is, of course, more well known for her feminist work, but this attempt to outline her metaethics is fascinating and deeply audacious: her state goal is to not just demonstrate how existentialism is compatible with a non-nihilistic ethical framework, but how only existentialism is compatible with an ethical framework.
The idea has some intuitive appeal to me, and I love the book, but I’m still not entirely convinced by its central argument. She goes from making the claim that “all people desire freedom”–which, in the way she defines “freedom,” I think is true–to “all people desire the freedom of all other people, whether they know it or not” without really explaining the leap. She claims to have demonstrated it in her essay Pyrrhus et Cinéas, and from the Stanford encyclopedia entry I can sort of see how she might make that argument, but I’m still not persuaded. I think I need to find a copy of that essay, at which point I’ll blog about this in further detail.
*The same applies to undergraduate Philosophy majors, ladies.