You are not currently logged in. Please create an account or log in to view the full course.

Government & Politics   >   Political Philosophy – Simone de Beauvoir

Life and Works

  • About
  • Transcript
  • Cite

Political Philosophy – Simone de Beauvoir

This course explores the political philosophy of Simone de Beauvoir (1921-2002), oriented around the Feminism section of the Government and Politics A-Level specification. We begin with some biographical information on de Beauvoir, highlighting her importance and influence. We then move on in the second lecture to consider the philosophical framework for The Second Sex – existentialism – focusing on two claims: firstly, that ‘we are condemned to be free’, and secondly, that ‘existence precedes essence’. In the third lecture, we explore Simone de Beauvoir’s seminal work ‘The Second Sex’ (1949), structuring our discussion around two key claims: firstly, that ‘Woman is Other’, and secondly, that ‘One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman’. In the fourth lecture, we consider the reception of ‘The Second Sex’, focusing on second-wave feminism and other feminist writers, such as Kate Millett. Then, in the fifth lecture, we consider Simone de Beauvoir’s legacy, including her engagement with multiple strands of feminism, such as materialist and difference feminism, her political activism, and the modification of her ideas by later feminists and gender theorists, such as Judith Butler. In the sixth and final lecture, we conclude our discussion by considering the ways in which ‘The Second Sex’ addresses many of the major questions that still preoccupy feminists today, as well as its importance, sophistication, and comprehensiveness as a feminist, literary, and philosophical text.

Life and Works

In this module, we outline the life and works of Simone de Beauvoir, focusing in particular on: (i) her works in biographical context; (ii) her most famous and influential writings, including ‘The Mandarins’, ‘Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter’, and ‘The Second Sex’; (iii) the impact of and historical context to 'The Second Sex'; (iv) Beauvoir’s activism in women’s causes, such as the Manifesto of the 343 and the torture of Djamila Boupacha; (v) her role as a major feminist figure and public commitment to feminist causes.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Atack, M. (2022, February 10). Political Philosophy – Simone de Beauvoir - Life and Works [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Atack, M. "Political Philosophy – Simone de Beauvoir – Life and Works." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 10 Feb 2022,


Prof. Margaret Atack

Prof. Margaret Atack

Leeds University