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An Eye for an Eye (Kindle Single) by [de Beauvoir, Simone]
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An Eye for an Eye (Kindle Single) Kindle Edition

4.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Length: 31 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
Page Flip: Enabled

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Product Details

  • File Size: 695 KB
  • Print Length: 31 pages
  • Publisher: Now and Then Reader (April 26, 2012)
  • Publication Date: April 26, 2012
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007Z3REO0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #794,393 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
I've never understood the usefulness of revenge. This essay analyzes and puts into perspective my own confusions, but more importantly what our appropriate response to evil--both as an individual and as a society-- is and should be.

Although the essay refers directly to a specific trial after WWII in France, the reader cannot help but drag history along, weight by added weight, to consider the events of our recent history. Yes, the Hague tries war criminals. The ceremony of civilization gives us the illusion of addressing horrors after the fact. We read and see examples of genocide in every decade since WWII. We argue (really?) whether water boarding is torture. According to de Beauvoir any action by the powerful to demean and lose empathy for another human being is criminal behavior.

In pondering the reasons we might want to 'see justice done' Simone de Beauvoir (in a finely wrought, tight, readable translation by Lieberman) explores the human condition. When should we retaliate? When is there a danger of becoming the evil we are trying to punish? Are people judged in their sum total or their temporary madness? When are they the victims of their own pasts or circumstances? Can real justice happen only when the criminal truly understands what they did or do we humor ourselves when we believe justice has been served?

The essay contains arguments within arguments, and, like any worthy exploration of crime and punishment, the ability to see various points of view while maintaining a strong sense of why the author believes what she does. It is both provocative and clear. It is also a timely essay. Sad to say, if past is prologue, it will always be a timely essay.
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Simone de Beauvoir was a French existentialist philosopher, intellectual, political activist, feminist theorist and social theorist. She did not consider herself a philosopher but she made contributions to the philosophies of existentialism and feminist existentialism. In 1944 Beauvoir wrote her first philosophical essay, "Pyrrhus et Cinéas", a discussion of a existentialist ethics. She continued her exploration of existentialism through her second essay, "The Ethics of Ambiguity" in 1947, a very clear exposition of existentialism. In 1946 she wrote this relatively short, but very clear analysis, of her refusal to oppose the execution of Robert Brasillach, a pro-Nazi, anti-Semitic author and publisher who flourished during World War II.

An excellent short summary of de Beauvoir's essay written by Lisa Lieberman is included, which in many ways is quite repetitive of de Beauvoir's own essay. I fear my own review will suffer the same fate -- de Beauvoir is so clear in her analysis that it is difficult to write a short synopsis. I urge anyone interested in these issues to read Beauvoir for themselves.

Lieberman does provide an excellent, factual introduction to the history of retribution, both private and public, following France's liberation from Nazi and Vichy rule. Vigilante justice led to the death of 10,000 collaborators; official courts sentenced another 6,763 to death, although most of these sentences were commuted to life imprisonment and of those almost all were later changed to pardons under amnesties supported by de Gaulle. It was, of course, difficult to punish French leaders because so many of them had loyally served the Vichy government.
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Any one approaching de Beauvaoir's writing should take into consideration that her standing as a philosopher or ethicist is secondary to her work (and fame) as a feminist (The Second Sex,1949The Second Sex) and novelist (She Came to Stay,1943She Came to Stay; and The Mandarins,1954), essayist and short story writer. She wrote The Ethics of Ambiguity in 1947 as an introduction to Jean-Paul Sartre's existential philosophy, two years after Sartre (her life partner and intellectual mentor) had given his own simplification of his abstract thought (in his monumental Being and Nothingness,1943) in an impromptu lecture to a lay audience in a Parisean restaurant in 1945. That talk was entitled " Existentialism is a Humanism" in which he reiterated his conviction that man did not have a given human nature,but was absolutely free to make of himself whatever he wished. de Bearvoir's aim is to further explain his ideas: for example, yes,man is free --she explains--in an abstract sense, in a Cartesian subjectivity; however,man is limited in his freedom because he is also an object in the consciousness of others. She contrasts man's freedom and radical subjectivity with his limitations and objectivity ("thingness"). Her purpose is to clarify or modify Sartre's harshness toward others (He had made the statement that "Hell is other people.") with her own description of man's altruistic freedom that takes into account the freedom of others;and --her interpretation--that existential freedom is limited by the freedom of others and must conform to social mores and expectations.Read more ›
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