Volume 64, Issue 3, Summer 2020
Special Topic: Vulnerability
Can Existentialism Be a Posthumanism?
Beauvoir as Precursor to Material Feminism
In this article, I demonstrate that Simone de Beauvoir’s philosophy represents a first major step toward a rejection of the humanist subject and therefore was influential for the development of contemporary posthumanist material feminism. Specifically, her unprecedented attention to embodiment and biology, in The Second Sex and other works, as well as her notion of ambiguity, serve to challenge the humanist subject. While I am not claiming that Beauvoir was a posthumanist or material feminist thinker avant la lettre, I show that she is an important precursor to some of their key ideas. Indeed, her thinking about the body, sex, gender, and the importance of embodiment and situation constitutes a challenge to the subject of humanism, thereby opening up a path for thinkers that follow to push Beauvoir’s critique and articulate a posthumanism that does away with the subject of humanism.