Beauvoir and Western Thought from Plato to Butler

Edited by Shannon M. Mussett & William S. Wilkerson

Subjects: Philosophy, History Of Philosophy, Feminist Philosophy, Philosophy Of Literature, Continental Philosophy
Paperback : 9781438444543, 258 pages, July 2013
Hardcover : 9781438444550, 258 pages, December 2012

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Table of contents

Authors’ Introduction
1. The Literary Grounding of Metaphysics: Beauvoir and Plato on Philosophical Fiction
Shannon M. Mussett
2. Existence, Freedom, and the Festival: Roussea and Beauvoir
Sally Scholz
3. A Different Kind of Universality: Beauvoir and Kant on Universal Ethics
William Wilkerson
4. Simone de Beauvoir and the Marquis de Sade: Contesting the Logic of Sovereignty and the Politics of Terror and Rape
Debra Bergoffen
5. Beauvoir and Marx
William McBride
6. Saving Time: Temporality, Recurrence, and Transcendence in Beauvoir’s Nietzchean Cycles
Elaine P. Miller
7. Beauvoir and  Husserl: An Unorthodox Approach to The Second Sex
Sara Heinämaa
8. Beauvoir and Bergson – A Question of Influence
Margaret A. Simons
9. Beauvoir and Merleau-Ponty: Philosophers of Ambiguity
Gail Weiss
10. From Beauvoir to Irigaray: Making Meaning out of Maternity
Erin McCarthy
11. Ambiguity and Precarious Life: Tracing Beauvoir’s Legacy in the Work of Judith Butler
Ann V. Murphy
12. True Philosophers: Beauvoir and bell
bell hooks

Essays on Beauvoir’s influences, contemporary engagements, and legacy in the philosophical tradition.


Despite a deep familiarity with the philosophical tradition and despite the groundbreaking influence of her own work, Simone de Beauvoir never embraced the idea of herself as a philosopher. Her legacy is similarly complicated. She is acclaimed as a revolutionary thinker on issues of gender, age, and oppression, but although much has been written weighing the influence she and Jean-Paul Sartre had on one another, the extent and sophistication of her engagement with the Western tradition broadly goes mostly unnoticed. This volume turns the spotlight on exactly that, examining Beauvoir's dialogue with her influences and contemporaries, as well as her impact on later thinkers—concluding with an autobiographical essay by bell hooks discussing the influence of Beauvoir's philosophy and life on her own work and career. These innovative essays both broaden our understanding of Beauvoir and suggest new ways of understanding canonical figures through the lens of her work.

Shannon M. Mussett is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Utah Valley University. She is the coeditor (with Sally J. Scholz) of The Contradictions of Freedom: Philosophical Essays on Simone de Beauvoir's The Mandarins, also published by SUNY Press. William S. Wilkerson is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. He is the author of Ambiguity and Sexuality: A Theory of Sexual Identity and the coeditor (with Jeffrey Paris) of New Critical Theory: Essays on Liberation.


"…these essays not only broaden our understanding of Beauvoir's philosophical work but also suggest new ways in which we can approach some of the best-known philosophers through her work; the essays are not restricted to addressing influence but further the analysis of other philosophers treated in the volume … it is a breath of fresh air in the study of Beauvoir's thought. " — Marx and Philosophy Review of Books

"This is an excellent addition to modern-day philosophical thought. " — Portland Book Review

"This book will correct missteps in Beauvoir's interpretation, especially with respect to her relation to phenomenologists. The chief strength of the volume, though, is that most of the contributors do not restrict themselves to addressing the question of influence, but rather venture to analyze and assess the philosophical proposals found both in Beauvoir's work and in the work of the other philosophers treated in this volume. " — Mary Beth Mader, author of Sleights of Reason: Norm, Bisexuality, Development