Simone de Beauvoir and the Politics of Ambiguity

Simone de Beauvoir and the Politics of Ambiguity

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Description

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 are less well known. Together, these constitute an original contribution to political theory and philosophy. The book both locates Beauvoir in her own intellectual and political context and demonstrates her continuing significance. For, in her unique voice, Beauvoir still speaks to a range of pressing theoretical and practical questions concerning politics. These include the political value and dangers of liberal of 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 Beauvoir's reflections on these and other matters the book puts her 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 an embodied self, to be capable of free choice and yet to be constrained and physically vulnerable. It is also to be in the world with many other such selves, whose relationships may be both reciprocal and conflictual or oppressive. Such ambiguities are intrinsic to politics, and they are not subject to resolution. Beauvoir thus shows us that failure is a necessary part of political action, and she insists that we acknowledge this while also assuming responsibility for the outcomes of what we do.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 220 pages
  • 157.48 x 236.22 x 20.32mm | 521.63g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0195381440
  • 9780195381443

Review quote

... Sonia Kruks provides a highly readable, rich and concise account Beauvoir's ideas but also deftly navigates contemporary debates in political thinking. This book is a must read. * Canadian Journal of Political Science * ... Simone de Beauvoir and the Politics of Ambiguity provides readers with an erudite yet accessible reading of the political theory of one of the great intellects of the twentieth century. ... It is well worth careful study and raises questions that will haunt the reader long after it is concluded. * Review of Politics * Simone de Beauvoir and the Politics of Ambiguity is valuable not only for its contribution of a missing link in contemporary Beauvoir scholarship, but also for the broader challenge it presents to political projects and philosophical considerations that fail to take seriously the contingency and ambiguity of situations and political action. * Hypatia Reviews Online * Kruks has provided us with a book of exemplary clarity which opens our eyes to the continuing relevance of the neglected writings of a fine political philosopher and has hopefully opened the door to further analysis of Beauvoirs texts. * David Drake, History of Political Thought *show more

About Sonia Kruks

Sonia Kruks grew up in London and studied at Leeds University and the London School of Economics. She taught at universities in London and in Southern Africa before moving to the USA, where she has taught at the Graduate Faculty of The New School for Social Research and at Oberlin College. She is the author of several books on existential political theory and feminist theory.show more

Table of contents

List of abbreviations ; Introduction ; Chapter 1: Humanism After Posthumanism ; Chapter 2: Theorizing Oppression ; Chapter 3: Confronting Privilege ; Chapter 4: Dilemmas of Political Judgment ; Chapter 5: "Eye for Eye": The Question of Revenge ; Bibliographyshow more