"One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman." - Simone de Beauvoir. To what extent does our social existence determine who we are? What is the meaning of sexuality for human existence? What is the meaning of 'old age'? What is a woman? And what, for that matter, is a man? Stella Sandford explores the philosophical basis of Beauvoir's reflections on these and other questions, from her early moral period, through her post-war philosophical crisis, to the astounding polymathic studies of her mature thought. She demonstrates the persistence of the fundamental existential and ethical questions that drove Beauvoir's work and her constant revision of her own positions. With a central emphasis on Beauvoir's major work, "The Second Sex", extracts are also taken from her first philosophical and political essays, as well as "The Mandarins, Old Age" and her essay on the Marquis de Sade.
Stella Sandford is Senior Lecturer in Modern European Philosophy at Middlesex University and a member of the Radical Philosophy Editorial Collective. She is the author of The Metaphysics of Love: Gender and Transcendence in Levinas and a forthcoming book on Plato and sex.