Kant and the Autonomous Individual

Topics: Simone de Beauvoir, Existentialism, Feminism Pages: 4 (1564 words) Published: April 26, 2009
My purpose in this essay is to provide evidence that freedom and autonomy are linked, as well as subjectivity and morality. This essay will also show why existentialism is the only medium sufficient enough to obtain these ideals. This evidence will be provided through the works of Sartre and De Beauvoir, and will give us a basis to discuss why freedom cannot exist without an individual first being autonomous, as well as why subjectivity is necessary to form a correct moral code. Objections to this form will also be discussed and refuted. Within De Beauvoir’s introduction to her book The Second Sex, she introduces a very important question: “what is a woman?” This question is important to our link between freedom and autonomy because in order for an individual to be self-sustaining and free, the individual must first be defined and be known to exist. De Beauvoir proposes a few explanations as to what a woman is and why these definitions fail: a woman is a womb, women must be feminine, biological femininity and other definitions of the like. These definitions fail because, as De Beauvoir explains, what if a woman does not use her womb? What about women who are not feminine, and how is feminine defined? These definitions instantly become self-defeating, and De Beauvoir moves to another practical definition of woman: woman is defined as the man’s Other. The Other that De Beauvoir speaks of may seem to be detrimental to the goals of a feminist project, but all of these projects are forced to start from the position that men have power. Because the woman is defined as “the sex,” she is defined as the Other. She is apart from the man, and she cannot think of herself without man like man can think of himself without woman. This duality is what creates the Self and the Other. Women do not pursue a subjective attitude as they refer to themselves as “woman,” not as “we.” Those who wish to grant women “equality and difference” as “the Other sex” are inherently...

Cited: De Beauvoir, Simone. "Conclusion to The Ethics of Ambiguity." Marxists.org. 14 Apr 2009 http://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/ethics/de-beauvoir/ambiguity/ch04.htm. De Beauvoir, Simone. "Introduction to The Second Sex." Marxists.org. 14 Apr 2009 http://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/ethics/de-beauvoir/2nd-sex/introduction.htm.
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