How to Be Authentic: Simone de Beauvoir and the Quest for Fulfillment

How to Be Authentic: Simone de Beauvoir and the Quest for Fulfillment

by Skye C. Cleary
How to Be Authentic: Simone de Beauvoir and the Quest for Fulfillment

How to Be Authentic: Simone de Beauvoir and the Quest for Fulfillment

by Skye C. Cleary


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An illuminating introduction to the philosophy of Simone de Beauvoir and its relevance to modern life

In an age of self-exposure, what does it mean to be authentic?

“Authenticity” has become attenuated to the point of meaninglessness; everyone says to be yourself, but what that means is anyone’s guess. For existential philosopher Simone de Beauvoir, authenticity is not the revelation of a true self, but an exhilarating quest towards fulfillment. Her view, central to existentialism, is that we exist first and then spend the rest of our lives creating—not discovering—who we are. To be authentic is to live in pursuit of self-creation and self-renewal, with many different paths towards diverse goals.

How to Be Authentic is a lively introduction to Simone de Beauvoir's philosophy of existentialism, as well as an exploration of the successes and failures that Beauvoir and other women have experienced in striving towards authenticity. Skye C. Cleary takes us through some of life’s major relationships and milestones: friendship; romantic love; marriage; children; and death, and examines how each offers an opportunity for us to stretch toward authenticity. While many people don’t get to choose their path in life—whether because of systemic oppression or the actions of other individuals—Cleary makes a compelling case that Beauvoir’s ideas can help us become more conscious of living purposefully, thoughtfully, and with vitality, and she shows us how to do so in responsible ways that invigorate every person’s right to become poets of their own lives.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250271358
Publisher: St. Martin's Publishing Group
Publication date: 08/16/2022
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 444,619
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

SKYE C. CLEARY, PhD is a philosopher and writer. She teaches at Columbia University, Barnard College, and the City University of New York, and is the author of Existentialism and Romantic Love and co-editor of How to Live a Good Life. Cleary’s writing has appeared in The Paris Review, Aeon, The Times Literary Supplement, TED-Ed, and The Los Angeles Review of Books, among other outlets. She won the 2017 New Philosopher Writers’ Award and was a 2021 MacDowell Fellow. She lives in New York City with her partner and son.

Table of Contents

Introduction ix

Part I Formative Years

Existential Infrastructure 3

Growing Up 32

Part II Situations

Friendship 55

Romantic Love 78

Marriage 100

Motherhood 123

Aging 145

Death 164

Part III Toward Fulfillment

Self-Sabotage 183

Happiness 204

Rebellion 224

Glossary of Key Terms 253

Acknowledgments 255

Selected Bibliography and Suggested Reading 257

Notes 267

Index 311

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