6 - Virtual Conflicts
Published online by Cambridge University Press: 23 June 2018
According to Deleuze, philosophical problems persist covertly in the actualisation of solutions.
It is an error to see problems as indicative of a provisional and subjective state, through which our knowledge must pass by virtue of its empirical limitations … [a problem] is solved once it is posited and determined, but still objectively persists in the solutions to which it gives rise and from which it differs in kind. (DR 280/359)
For one thing, the solution of a philosophical problem in the social and political domain involves its actualisation in a field of institutions and actions, which inevitably face contingencies and obstacles. For another, the event of perplexing sensibility that gives rise to the problem occurs in a field of other ideas and events with which its effects are intermixed. With what other events is the problem/solution complex of The Second Sex intertwined? What problems might we expect to emerge from the actualisation of Simone de Beauvoir's implicit Idea, from a Deleuzian point of view?
Three potential problems come to mind. First, whatever its initial goals, The Second Sex was historically actualised by a ‘molar’ feminist movement to which Beauvoir eventually lent support. Can movements dedicated to the defence of those who affirm or are assigned to a certain identity support their becoming beyond that identity? Second, The Second Sex is consistently egalitarian, and assumes that all humans should prefer equality to hierarchy – including equality between the sexes – whether or not this is their empirical desire. But is equality always preferable to inequality? Finally, in writing The Second Sex, Beauvoir did assume that history would and should follow a roughly linear progressive path towards the institutionalisation of equality and freedom. Even if it was hard to account for the present existence of sexism using such a linear narrative, given Beauvoir's belief in the artificial nature of gender hierarchy, she seemed to believe that such hierarchies would eventually be abolished along with those of class and race or nationality. These aspects of Beauvoir's project have either given rise to historical problems for feminists or might be expected to do so.
- Simone de Beauvoir's Philosophy of IndividuationThe Problem of The Second Sex, pp. 162 - 198Publisher: Edinburgh University PressPrint publication year: 2017