Simone de Beauvoir and the feminist revolution
Are we always free to choose one course of action over another, regardless of the situation that we are facing? Many of us would answer ‘no’ to this question. Yet, existentialist philosophers such as Simone de Beauvoir, and Jean-Paul Sartre in particular, think that human beings always have a choice. Existentialists tell us that we are free – but what do they mean? And, if we are all free, won't an individual’s freedom be limited by other people’s freedom? Sartre also says that freedom is not something we enjoy but rather a burden. Why should it be a burden? The answers to these questions spring out of the existentialists’ original view of the human being, which you will be introduced to by briefly exploring some of the philosophical ideas of Simone de Beauvoir. Sartre encourages people to become what they want to be, to create themselves. However, some people are arguably more restricted than others in their self-creation by the way in which others categorise and perceive them. These ideas provide useful context to exploring Simone de Beauvoir’s thesis that women’s freedom is affected by the way they are perceived, and indeed the way they perceive themselves.
This free course is an adapted extract from the Open University course Learn more about these OpenLearn courses here.. It is one of four OpenLearn courses exploring the notion of the Sixties as a ‘revolutionary’ period.