Toward a Phenomenology of Sexual Difference: Husserl, Merleau-Ponty, Beauvoir

Heinamaa, Sara. Toward a Phenomenology of Sexual Difference: Husserl, Merleau-Ponty, Beauvoir. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 1995.

From the publisher:

Simone de Beauvoir’s Le Deuxième Sexe has been studied extensively since its appearance in 1949. Through the years, certain passages have taken on prestige; others are seen as unimportant to understanding Beauvoir’s argument. In Toward a Phenomenology of Sexual Difference, Sara Heinämaa rediscovers those neglected passages in her quest to follow Beauvoir’s line of thinking. Heinämaa, like some other recent philosophers, finds that Le Duexième Sexe is a philosophical inquiry, not the empirical study it is commonly thought to be.

Others who view Beauvoir’s masterpiece as a work of philosophy argue it is a criticism not only of Sartrean phenomenology, but of phenomenology as a whole. Heinämaa thinks differently. She finds that Beauvoir’s starting point is the Husserlian idea of the living body that she found developed in Merleau-Ponty’s Phénoménologie de la perception. So when Beavoir wrote Le Duexième Sexe, she was writing not as Sartre’s pupil, but as a scholar in the tradition of Husserl and Merleau-Ponty.