Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities

Deciding to Become Human: Choice, Autonomy and Sexuality in the Creation of Human Subjectivity

Holmes Morgan.

In her philosophical work, The Ethics of Ambiguity, and her novel, The Blood of Others, Simone de Beauvoir asks us to consider the place of decision-making in creating ourselves as human beings. The central problem in both texts is one of negotiating the space between the self and the Other such that one's own bringing of the self into being does not happen at the expense of an Other or Others. My paper will use contemporary feminist philosophical and cultural theory in combination with feminist analytic tools to examine the intricacies of deBeauvoir's work. Ultimately, I argue that the sexual component of The Blood of Others adds a critical element to the argument, a component missing from explicit concerns in The Ethics of Ambiguity. Taken together, the two works remain useful conceptual tools for negotiating contemporary debates about sexuality, decision making and interpersonal relations in the realization of "the self".


Holmes Morgan  (Canada)
Assistant Professor
Department of Sociology Faculty of Arts
Wilfrid Laurier University

Morgan Holmes is interested in the ways that gender and sexuality intersect with cultural systems and conceptual frameworks (including the divergent yet overlapping fields of art and diagnostic technologies) in the production of human being and categories of humanness. The concern for recognizing the humanness of others and the need to ask the question, "How do we define human being and why do we do it in this particular way?" are central to her work.

  • Philosophy
  • Ethics
  • Sexuality
  • Feminist subjectivity
Person as Subject
  • de Beauvoir, Simone

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)