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  By: Amy Leask, Philosopher, and Owner of Enable Training and Consulting, Inc.

Simone de Beauvoir Says Be Passionate

Passion is the spark that drives all kinds of great thinkers, so it should be no surprise that it can get a philosopher fired up about living an examined life. For Simone de Beauvoir, passion leads to a more honest, fulfilling existence, and also allows us to reach out to others.

As an existentialist, de Beauvoir believes that all humans have the freedom to choose the course of our lives. This isn’t to say that we can do anything we want, but rather that we can choose how we react to whatever happens to come our way. In this school of thought, blaming our actions on someone or something else amounts to being dishonest with ourselves. De Beauvoir takes this one step further, and tells us to actually get excited about our freedom to choose, and to be active and passionate participants in our lives. 

De Beauvoir also insists that this passion shouldn’t end with our own lives, nor should it be used as an excuse for violence, aggression or selfishness. She explains that humans are not merely isolated individuals, but rather a collective of beings trying to get along together in the world. For better or for worse, we’re connected to others, and a truly passionate life means allowing and encouraging others to approach their choices in life with the same zeal we show in our own. 

One of the most liberating and empowering things about de Beauvoir’s version of passion is that it doesn’t require a strict set of rules and directions. At the end of each day, simply ask yourself: Did I approach my life as an active participant, instead of just letting things happening to me?  Did I make decisions I can get excited about? Did I do my best to allow and encourage others to do the same? Being passionate means making a lot of small, but important choices, all of which bring a better understanding of ourselves and others.

Thinker’s Bio:

Born in Paris in 1908, Simone de Beauvoir was a precocious student and the youngest person ever to pass the highly-competitive final exam at the École Normale Supérieure.  She was profoundly affected by the tragedies of World War II, and dedicated her life to celebrating and protecting human freedom.  In addition to being a philosopher and teacher, de Beauvoir was well known as a political activist, novelist, and an influential leader in the women’s liberation movement. 

Until next time, Sapere Aude (Dare to be wise),


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