Love–According to Simone de Beauvoir

In Laura Hengehold & Nancy Bauer (eds.), A Companion to Simone de Beauvoir. Hoboken, New Jersey, USA: pp. 160-171 (2017)
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Beauvoir discusses various kinds of personal love in her work, including maternal love, lesbian love, friendship, and heterosexual love. In her portrayal of heterosexual love, she draws a distinction between two main types, inauthentic and authentic. Authentic love is “founded on mutual recognition of two liberties,” always freely chosen and sustained. It requires that the lovers maintain their individuality, while at the same time acknowledging each other’s differences. Inauthentic love is founded on inequality between the sexes, on submission and domination. It prevents both women and men from experiencing freedom, comradeship and the joy of loving. This distinction is, I argue, applicable also to other types of love. Unlike Sartre, Beauvoir believes authentic love is possible. I contrast their respective views. Towards the end, I consider Beauvoir’s idea of authentic love in light of her concept of moral freedom, and argue that Beauvoir’s authentic love foreshadows feminist notion of “relational autonomy.”

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Tove Pettersen
University of Oslo


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