Reconstituting Experience: Beauvoir’s Philosophical Conception of Literature

  • Ulrika Björk Södertörn University

Resumo

This article addresses the relation between existence, language and communication from the perspective of Simone de Beauvoir’s philosophical distinction between conceptual and literary expression. I argue that the background to this distinction is found in Søren Kierkegaard’s critique of the philosophical system, especially in his claim that conceptual language cannot express the paradox of subjectivity. I also show that Beauvoir’s more general conception of language and communication draw on the tradition of Husserlian phenomenology, and is systematically close to Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy of language and subjectivity. On the basis of Beauvoir’s essays on philosophy and literature, I then reconstruct a position according to which literary expression— because of its indirect mode of communication—is able to describe and mediate the subjective aspects of existence. Whereas conceptual language can only communicate what is universal, and thereby fails to account for the ambiguity of existence, literature, expresses the universal in its singular, temporal and contingent manifestations. I finally show how Beauvoir develops her philosophical conception of literature in a discussion of the so-called ‘metaphysical novel’ and by comparing the novel and autobiography as two modes of indirect communication. The novel in particular enables the writer to reconstitute experience in imagination. The phenomenological and existential notions of subjectivity and paradox are underlie Beauvoir’s conception of metaphysics as well as that of the metaphysical novel.

Este artigo aborda a relação entre existência, linguagem e comunicação na perspectiva da distinção filosófica de Simone de Beauvoir entre expressão conceitual e literária. Defendo a tese de que o pano de fundo desta distinção é encontrado na crítica de Søren Kierkegaard ao sistema filosófico, especialmente em sua afirmação de que a linguagem conceitual não pode expressar o paradoxo da subjetividade. Também mostro que a concepção de linguagem e comunicação de âmbito mais geral em Beauvoir baseia-se na tradição da fenomenologia husserliana, e é sistematicamente próxima à filosofia da linguagem e da subjetividade de Maurice Merleau-Ponty. Com base nos ensaios de Beauvoir sobre filosofia e literatura, reconstruo então uma posição segundo a qual a expressão literária, por causa de seu modo indireto de comunicação, é capaz de descrever e mediar os aspectos subjetivos da existência. Considerando que a linguagem conceitual pode comunicar apenas o que é universal e, portanto, não leva em conta a ambiguidade da existência, a literatura expressa o universal em suas manifestações singulares, temporais e contingentes. Tento, por fim, mostrar como Beauvoir desenvolve a sua concepção filosófica de literatura em uma discussão sobre o assim chamado “romance metafísico”, e comparando o romance e a autobiografia como dois modos de comunicação indireta. O romance em particular permite o escritor a reconstituir a experiência na imaginação. As noções fenomenológicas e existenciais da subjetividade e do paradoxo são subjacentes à concepção de Beauvoir da metafísica, bem como a do romance metafísico.

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Biografia do Autor

Ulrika Björk, Södertörn University
Researcher at Uppsala University; She teaches at the Department of Philosophy at the Södertörn University. She earned her Ph.D. in Philosophy from University of Helsinki in 2009 (Diss: Poetics of Subjectivity: Existence and Expressivity in Simone de Beauvoir's Philosophy). She has taught philosophy and feminist philosophy in Sweden and been a guest lecturer in Finland, Iceland and Italy. She has edited and contributed to two books in Swedish, Stil, kön, andrahet. Tolv essäer i feministisk filosofi [Style, Sex, Otherness: Twelve Esays in Feminist Philosophy] (with Lisa Käll, 2010) and Konsten att handla – konsten att tänka. Hannah Arendt om det politiska [The Art of Acting – the Art of Thinking: Hannah Arendt on the Political] (with Anders Burman, 2011), and published a dozen Swedish and international journal articles and book chapters in her fields of expertise. She has been a visiting scholar at Penn State University (2010-2011), Verona University (2011) and Tulane University (2011-2012)

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Publicado
15-02-2013
Como Citar
Björk, U. (2013). Reconstituting Experience: Beauvoir’s Philosophical Conception of Literature. Sapere Aude, 3(6), 73-95. Recuperado de http://periodicos.pucminas.br/index.php/SapereAude/article/view/4801
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ARTIGOS/ARTICLES: DOSSIÊ/DOSSIER