Research

Heather is writing a dissertation about Simone de Beauvoir & the problem of other minds, under the direction of Toril Moi and Owen Flanagan.

Her interests include philosophy of mind, existentialism, philosophy of literature, and ordinary language philosophy.

 

 

Beauvoir is most famous for her masterpiece in feminist philosophy—The Second Sex.  Underpinning the analysis in The Second Sex are questions about our relations to other people: How do we come to know other people? In what ways do other people know us—and more than just know us, in what ways do they have authority about us? Each of us decides who we will be in our choices and our actions. But we constantly come face to face with other people’s judgments about us, which often conflict with our images of ourselves. Beauvoir’s concept of ambiguity gives us a framework for understanding how we can and should live in this tension—as individual subjects and as people shaping the world for others. She also maps many of the ways that a reciprocal relationship between self and other can go wrong. Beauvoir’s understanding of ambiguity has useful lessons for contemporary philosophical discussions about self-knowledge and for issues in our ordinary lives.

 

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