Simone de Beauvoir quotes

Simone de Beauvoir photo
152   4

Simone de Beauvoir

Birthdate: 9. January 1908
Date of death: 14. April 1986
Other names: Simone De Beauvoirová

Simone Lucie Ernestine Marie Bertrand de Beauvoir was a French writer, intellectual, existentialist philosopher, political activist, feminist and social theorist. Though she did not consider herself a philosopher, she had a significant influence on both feminist existentialism and feminist theory.De Beauvoir wrote novels, essays, biographies, autobiography and monographs on philosophy, politics, and social issues. She was known for her 1949 treatise The Second Sex, a detailed analysis of women's oppression and a foundational tract of contemporary feminism; and for her novels, including She Came to Stay and The Mandarins. She was also known for her open, lifelong relationship with French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre. Wikipedia

Works

The Second Sex
Simone de Beauvoir
The Ethics of Ambiguity
The Ethics of Ambiguity
Simone de Beauvoir
The Mandarins
The Mandarins
Simone de Beauvoir
La Vieillesse
La Vieillesse
Simone de Beauvoir
The Blood of Others
The Blood of Others
Simone de Beauvoir
Les Belles Images
Les Belles Images
Simone de Beauvoir

„To "catch" a husband is an art; to "hold" him is a job.“

—  Simone de Beauvoir, book The Second Sex

Bk. 2, part 5, Ch. 1: The Married Woman, p. 468
Source: The Second Sex (1949)

„One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman.“

—  Simone de Beauvoir, book The Second Sex

On ne naît pas femme: on le devient.
Bk. 2, Pt.. 4, Ch. 1: Childhood, p. 267
Source: The Second Sex (1949)

„From the very beginning, existentialism defined itself as a philosophy of ambiguity.“

—  Simone de Beauvoir, book The Ethics of Ambiguity

Part I : Ambiguity and Freedom
The Ethics of Ambiguity (1947)
Context: From the very beginning, existentialism defined itself as a philosophy of ambiguity. It was by affirming the irreducible character of ambiguity that Kierkegaard opposed himself to Hegel, and it is by ambiguity that, in our own generation, Sartre, in Being and Nothingness, fundamentally defined man, that being whose being is not to be, that subjectivity which realizes itself only as a presence in the world, that engaged freedom, that surging of the for-oneself which is immediately given for others. But it is also claimed that existentialism is a philosophy of the absurd and of despair. It encloses man in a sterile anguish, in an empty subjectivity. It is incapable of furnishing him with any principle for making choices. Let him do as he pleases. In any case, the game is lost. Does not Sartre declare, in effect, that man is a “useless passion,” that he tries in vain to realize the synthesis of the for-oneself and the in-oneself, to make himself God? It is true. But it is also true that the most optimistic ethics have all begun by emphasizing the element of failure involved in the condition of man; without failure, no ethics; for a being who, from the very start, would be an exact co-incidence with himself, in a perfect plenitude, the notion of having-to-be would have no meaning. One does not offer an ethics to a God. It is impossible to propose any to man if one defines him as nature, as something given. The so-called psychological or empirical ethics manage to establish themselves only by introducing surreptitiously some flaw within the manthing which they have first defined.

„It was said that I refused to grant any value to the maternal instinct and to love. This was not so.“

—  Simone de Beauvoir

Force of Circumstances Vol. III (1963) as translated by Richard Howard (1968) - Excerpt online http://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/ethics/de-beauvoir/1963/interview.htm
General sources
Context: It was said that I refused to grant any value to the maternal instinct and to love. This was not so. I simply asked that women should experience them truthfully and freely, whereas they often use them as excuses and take refuge in them, only to find themselves imprisoned in that refuge when those emotions have dried up in their hearts. I was accused of preaching sexual promiscuity; but at no point did I ever advise anyone to sleep with just anyone at just any time; my opinion on this subject is that all choices, agreements and refusals should be made independently of institutions, conventions and motives of self-aggrandizement; if the reasons for it are not of the same order as the act itself, then the only result can be lies, distortions and mutilations.

„In order for the artist to have a world to express he must first be situated in this world, oppressed or oppressing, resigned or rebellious, a man among men.“

—  Simone de Beauvoir, book The Ethics of Ambiguity

Pt. III : The Positive Aspect of Ambiguity http://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/ethics/de-beauvoir/ambiguity/ch03.htm#s2, Ch. 1 : The Aesthetic Attitude
The Ethics of Ambiguity (1947)
Context: We must not confuse the present with the past. With regard to the past, no further action is possible. There have been war, plague, scandal, and treason, and there is no way of our preventing their having taken place; the executioner became an executioner and the victim underwent his fate as a victim without us; all that we can do is to reveal it, to integrate it into the human heritage, to raise it to the dignity of the aesthetic existence which bears within itself its finality; but first this history had to occur: it occurred as scandal, revolt, crime, or sacrifice, and we were able to try to save it only because it first offered us a form. Today must also exist before being confirmed in its existence: its destination in such a way that everything about it already seemed justified and that there was no more of it to reject, then there would also be nothing to say about it, for no form would take shape in it; it is revealed only through rejection, desire, hate and love. In order for the artist to have a world to express he must first be situated in this world, oppressed or oppressing, resigned or rebellious, a man among men. But at the heart of his existence he finds the exigency which is common to all men; he must first will freedom within himself and universally; he must try to conquer it: in the light of this project situations are graded and reasons for acting are made manifest.

Help us translate English quotes

Discover interesting quotes and translate them.

Start translating

„In horror, in terror, she accepted the metamorphosis — gnat, foam, ant, until death.“

—  Simone de Beauvoir

Last lines
All Men are Mortal (1946)
Context: In horror, in terror, she accepted the metamorphosis — gnat, foam, ant, until death. And it's only the beginning, she thought. She stood motionless, as if it were possible to play tricks with time, possible to stop it from following its course. But her hands stiffened against her quivering lips.
When the bells began to sound the hour she let out the first scream.

„The Universe was somewhere else, always somewhere else! And it isn't anywhere: there are only men, men eternally divided.“

—  Simone de Beauvoir

Source: All Men are Mortal (1946), p. 201
Context: What did today's sacrifices matter: the Universe lay ahead in the future. What did burnings at the stake and massacres matter? The Universe was somewhere else, always somewhere else! And it isn't anywhere: there are only men, men eternally divided.

„The curse which lies upon marriage is that too often the individuals are joined in their weakness rather than in their strength, each asking from the other instead of finding pleasure in giving.“

—  Simone de Beauvoir, book The Second Sex

Bk. 2, Pt.. 5, Ch. 2: The Mother, p. 522
The Second Sex (1949)
Context: The curse which lies upon marriage is that too often the individuals are joined in their weakness rather than in their strength, each asking from the other instead of finding pleasure in giving. It is even more deceptive to dream of gaining through the child a plenitude, a warmth, a value, which one is unable to create for oneself; the child brings joy only to the woman who is capable of disinterestedly desiring the happiness of another, to one who without being wrapped up in self seeks to transcend her own existence.

„Men of today seem to feel more acutely than ever the paradox of their condition.“

—  Simone de Beauvoir, book The Ethics of Ambiguity

Part I : Ambiguity and Freedom
The Ethics of Ambiguity (1947)
Context: Men of today seem to feel more acutely than ever the paradox of their condition. They know themselves to be the supreme end to which all action should be subordinated, but the exigencies of action force them to treat one another as instruments or obstacles, as means. The more widespread their mastery of the world, the more they find themselves crushed by uncontrollable forces.

„In spite of so many stubborn lies, at every moment, at every opportunity, the truth comes to light, the truth of life and death, of my solitude and my bond with the world, of my freedom and my servitude, of the insignificance and the sovereign importance of each man and all men.“

—  Simone de Beauvoir, book The Ethics of Ambiguity

Part I : Ambiguity and Freedom
The Ethics of Ambiguity (1947)
Context: In spite of so many stubborn lies, at every moment, at every opportunity, the truth comes to light, the truth of life and death, of my solitude and my bond with the world, of my freedom and my servitude, of the insignificance and the sovereign importance of each man and all men. There was Stalingrad and there was Buchenwald, and neither of the two wipes out the other. Since we do not succeed in fleeing it, let us therefore try to look the truth in the face. Let us try to assume our fundamental ambiguity. It is in the knowledge of the genuine conditions of our life that we must draw our strength to live and our reason for acting [C'est dans la connaissance des conditions authentiques de notre vie qu'il nous faut puiser la force de vivre et des raisons d'agir].

„If it came to be that each man did what he must, existence would be saved in each one without there being any need of dreaming of a paradise where all would be reconciled in death.“

—  Simone de Beauvoir, book The Ethics of Ambiguity

Conclusion
The Ethics of Ambiguity (1947)
Context: In Plato, art is mystification because there is the heaven of Ideas; but in the earthly domain all glorification of the earth is true as soon as it is realized. Let men attach value to words, forms, colors, mathematical theorems, physical laws, and athletic prowess; let them accord value to one another in love and friendship, and the objects, the events, and the men immediately have this value; they have it absolutely. It is possible that a man may refuse to love anything on earth; he will prove this refusal and he will carry it out by suicide. If he lives, the reason is that, whatever he may say, there still remains in him some attachment to existence; his life will be commensurate with this attachment; it will justify itself to the extent that it genuinely justifies the world.
This justification, though open upon the entire universe through time and space, will always be finite. Whatever one may do, one never realizes anything but a limited work, like existence itself which tries to establish itself through that work and which death also limits. It is the assertion of our finiteness which doubtless gives the doctrine which we have just evoked its austerity and, in some eyes, its sadness. As soon as one considers a system abstractly and theoretically, one puts himself, in effect, on the plane of the universal, thus, of the infinite. … existentialism does not offer to the reader the consolations of an abstract evasion: existentialism proposes no evasion. On the contrary, its ethics is experienced in the truth of life, and it then appears as the only proposition of salvation which one can address to men. Taking on its own account Descartes’ revolt against the evil genius, the pride of the thinking reed in the face of the universe which crushes him, it asserts that, despite his limits, through them, it is up to each one to fulfill his existence as an absolute. Regardless of the staggering dimensions of the world about us, the density of our ignorance, the risks of catastrophes to come, and our individual weakness within the immense collectivity, the fact remains that we are absolutely free today if we choose to will our existence in its finiteness, a finiteness which is open on the infinite. And in fact, any man who has known real loves, real revolts, real desires, and real will knows quite well that he has no need of any outside guarantee to be sure of his goals; their certitude comes from his own drive. There is a very old saying which goes: “Do what you must, come what may.” That amounts to saying in a different way that the result is not external to the good will which fulfills itself in aiming at it. If it came to be that each man did what he must, existence would be saved in each one without there being any need of dreaming of a paradise where all would be reconciled in death.

„When the bells began to sound the hour she let out the first scream.“

—  Simone de Beauvoir

Last lines
All Men are Mortal (1946)
Context: In horror, in terror, she accepted the metamorphosis — gnat, foam, ant, until death. And it's only the beginning, she thought. She stood motionless, as if it were possible to play tricks with time, possible to stop it from following its course. But her hands stiffened against her quivering lips.
When the bells began to sound the hour she let out the first scream.

„He walks in the street, a picture of modesty in his felt hat and his gabardine suit, and all the while he's thinking, "I'm immortal."“

—  Simone de Beauvoir

The world is his, time is his, and I'm nothing but an insect.
Regina to herself, p. 28
All Men are Mortal (1946)

„Self-knowledge is no guarantee of happiness, but it is on the side of happiness and can supply the courage to fight for it.“

—  Simone de Beauvoir

Force of Circumstances Vol. III (1963) as translated by Richard Howard (1968)
General sources
Context: Self-knowledge is no guarantee of happiness, but it is on the side of happiness and can supply the courage to fight for it. Psychiatrists have told me that they give The Second Sex to their women patients to read, and not merely to intellectual women but to lower-middle-class women, to office workers and women working in factories. 'Your book was a great help to me. Your book saved me,' are the words I have read in letters from women of all ages and all walks of life.
If my book has helped women, it is because it expressed them, and they in their turn gave it its truth. Thanks to them, it is no longer a matter for scandal and concern. During these last ten years the myths that men created have crumbled, and many women writers have gone beyond me and have been far more daring than I. Too many of them for my taste take sexuality as their only theme; but at least when they write about it they now present themselves as the eye-that-looks, as subject, consciousness, freedom.

„At the present time there still exist many doctrines which choose to leave in the shadow certain troubling aspects of a too complex situation. But their attempt to lie to us is in vain. Cowardice doesn’t pay.“

—  Simone de Beauvoir, book The Ethics of Ambiguity

Part I : Ambiguity and Freedom http://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/ethics/de-beauvoir/ambiguity/ch01.htm
The Ethics of Ambiguity (1947)
Context: At the present time there still exist many doctrines which choose to leave in the shadow certain troubling aspects of a too complex situation. But their attempt to lie to us is in vain. Cowardice doesn’t pay. Those reasonable metaphysics, those consoling ethics with which they would like to entice us only accentuate the disorder from which we suffer.

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

Similar authors

Jean Paul Sartre photo
Jean Paul Sartre315
French existentialist philosopher, playwright, novelist, sc…
Simone Weil photo
Simone Weil192
French philosopher, Christian mystic, and social activist
Michel Foucault photo
Michel Foucault128
French philosopher
Brigitte Bardot photo
Brigitte Bardot35
French model, actor, singer and animal rights activist
Albert Camus photo
Albert Camus203
French author and journalist
Bertrand Russell photo
Bertrand Russell553
logician, one of the first analytic philosophers and politi…
Paul Valéry photo
Paul Valéry84
French poet, essayist, and philosopher
Noam Chomsky photo
Noam Chomsky331
american linguist, philosopher and activist
Pierre Teilhard De Chardin photo
Pierre Teilhard De Chardin63
French philosopher and Jesuit priest
Jack London photo
Jack London76
American author, journalist, and social activist
Today anniversaries
Rollo May photo
Rollo May129
US psychiatrist 1909 - 1994
John Muir photo
John Muir183
Scottish-born American naturalist and author 1838 - 1914
Nina Simone photo
Nina Simone7
American singer, songwriter, pianist, arranger, and civil r… 1933 - 2003
Catherine the Great photo
Catherine the Great29
Empress of Russia 1729 - 1796
Another 69 today anniversaries
Similar authors
Jean Paul Sartre photo
Jean Paul Sartre315
French existentialist philosopher, playwright, novelist, sc…
Simone Weil photo
Simone Weil192
French philosopher, Christian mystic, and social activist
Michel Foucault photo
Michel Foucault128
French philosopher
Brigitte Bardot photo
Brigitte Bardot35
French model, actor, singer and animal rights activist
Albert Camus photo
Albert Camus203
French author and journalist