Why Beauvoir Is Not a Subjectivist about Meaning in Life
Journal of Philosophy of Life Vol.12, No.1 (November 2022):39-54
This paper answers the question of how Simone de Beauvoir’s view on meaning in life ought to be categorized within the standard theoretical framework in contemporary analytic philosophy. According to this framework, theories of meaning divide into four main categories: supernaturalism, nihilism, subjective naturalism, and objective naturalism. Contemporary philosophers typically classify existentialists (including Beauvoir) as subjective naturalists, and some of Beauvoir’s own writings seem to support this interpretation. A careful and systematic examination of Beauvoir’s work, however, does not support this view. Morality and the value of freedom provide objective constraints on Beauvoir’s view of meaning in life. Since Beauvoir’s position combines both subjectivist and objectivist elements, it is best categorized as a “hybrid” position.
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