Simone de Beauvoir Jean Paul Sartre in Beijing 1955 1

The Philosophy and Feminism of Simone de Beauvoir

Kate Kirkpatrick

Has Beauvoir's philosophy been overlooked? KCL philosopher and author of Becoming Beauvoir, Kate Kirkpatrick, draws on unpublished writings to interrogate her ground-breaking philosophy.

  • 20 02 18 Kate Kirk
    Kate Kirkpatrick

    Kate Kirkpatrick is Lecturer in Religion, Philosophy and Culture at King's College London and has written extensively on Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir.


About the Course


We’ve all heard of Simone de Beauvoir, and some of us might even think we know all there is to know about her philosophy and feminism. But many of Beauvoir’s revolutionary ideas have been neglected by history, replaced instead with salacious tales of her intellectual partnership with Sartre.

In this course, lecturer in Religion, Philosophy and Culture at King’s College London and author of Becoming Beauvoir: A Life, Kate Kirkpatrick introduces us to a new way of seeing Beauvoir’s impact on modern society. Kirkpatrick divides the course in two, first tackling her philosophy and then moving on to discuss her feminism. Ultimately, Kirkpatrick paints an honest and just picture of a woman who she believes changed the face of western society forever. 

By the end of the course, you will have learned about:

  • Beauvoir's leap from fiction to ethical writing
  • Her partnership with Sartre, where they agreed and where they disagreed
  • The meaning of "looking at" vs "looking to" in Beauvoir's philosophy
  • The concept of inaction as a negative force
  • The multiplicity of incompatible myths, according to Beauvoir
  • The effect of childhood on the internalisation of values


As part of the course there are in-video quiz questions to consolidate your learning and discussion boards where you can have your say.

IAI Academy courses are designed to be challenging but accessible to the interested student. No specialist knowledge is required.

About the Instructor

  • Kate Kirkpatrick

    Kate Kirkpatrick is Lecturer in Religion, Philosophy and Culture at King's College London, UK. Kate Kirkpatrick has written on Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and methodology in the philosophy of religion.

Course Syllabus

  • Part One: Beauvoir and Philosophy
    Beauvoir famously said that one must ‘become’ a woman, but how does anyone ‘become’ themselves? Kirkpatrick delves into Beauvoir’s existentialist philosophy.
  • Part Two: Beauvoir and Feminism
    Beauvoir is widely regarded as initiating second-wave feminism, but what exactly did she say about women and the social institutions that oppress them?