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Aging as Otherness: Revisiting Simone de Beauvoir’s Old Age

Gilleard, C; (2021) Aging as Otherness: Revisiting Simone de Beauvoir’s Old Age. The Gerontologist 10.1093/geront/gnab034. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

Aging has been given short shrift as a topic in philosophy. The aim of this article is to redress this neglect by revisiting some of the key philosophical issues in Simone de Beauvoir’s book, Old Age. In her notion of old age’s unrealizability, its impossibility of fully embodying a subject position, and the role played by the other in denying such subjectivity, she draws upon the work of both Heidegger and Sartre. The dilemma she repeatedly draws attention to, of always seeming to age in ways other than as one’s self, raises the question of whether any view of aging as an authentic subjectivity may be no more than, in Heidegger’s words, a “chimerical undertaking.” In examining how the concepts of bad faith and inauthenticity are used by Heidegger and Sartre, the article concludes that for both these writers, an authentic subject position can be maintained in later life, without ending up as the otherwise inauthentic subject of others’ collective imaginary of “a good age.”

Type: Article
Title: Aging as Otherness: Revisiting Simone de Beauvoir’s Old Age
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1093/geront/gnab034
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1093/geront/gnab034
Language: English
Additional information: © The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Gerontological Society of America. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Keywords: de Beauvoir, Heidegger, Later life, Otherness, Sartre, Unrealizability
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Division of Psychiatry
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10124138
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