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Simone de Beauvoir (1908-1986) was a giant of existentialism, a feminist pioneer, and one of the most influential thinkers of her century. This handsome, pocket-sized edition from Penguin's Great Ideas series features two of Beauvoir's essays:
"What Is Existentialism?" is an illuminating, short piece that explains and corrects several misunderstandings about existential philosophy. In the process, Beauvoir clarifies the contributions of existentialism to modern thought and focuses our attention on its core purpose: to overcome the false distinction between subjects and objects—between, in other words, ourselves and our world.
"Pyrrhus and Cineas," Beauvoir's first philosophical essay, deals with many of the same problems in a more literary way, with a new interpretation of a classical debate about action and ethics. The ambiguity of our existence—the purposeful subject for ourselves, the obstructive object for others—gives rise to provocative questions about agency, freedom, violence, and power.