Journal of Philosophy of Life

An international peer-reviewed open access journal dedicated to the philosophy of life, death, and nature, supported by the Project of Philosophy and Contemporary Society, Advanced Research Center for Human Sciences, Waseda University


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Beauvoir's Philosophy of Meaning in Life

Kiki Berk

Journal of Philosophy of Life Vol.11, No.1 (June 2021):60-77




While Simone de Beauvoir does not offer an explicit theory of meaning in life in any single work, she does provide in her various writings the materials needed to piece together such a theory. In this paper, I offer a systematic account of Beauvoir’s view on meaning in life based on these materials. In particular, I develop this account based on her discussion of projects in Pyrrhus and Cineas, her discussion of values in The Ethics of Ambiguity, her discussions of death and aging in The Coming of Age, and her discussion of gender in The Second Sex. In the course of doing so, I also make connections to some of her fellow “existentialists” (Sartre and Heidegger) as well as some contemporary analytic philosophers (Setiya and Scheffler) in order to show the originality and continued relevance of Beauvoir’s philosophy of meaning in life.

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