Perspectives on Love: Tove Pettersen on "The Ambiguity of Love: Simone de Beauvoir’s Perspective"

In the first lecture of STK's new event series Perspectives on Love, Professor Tove Pettersen will consider Simone de Beauvoir’s philosophy of love.

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Photo: UiO/Moshe Milner creator QS: P170, Q28750411, Simone de Beauvoir2 , CC BY-SA 3.0


In this talk I will examine how Beauvoir’s philosophy of love highlights the ambiguity of the human condition by awakening the tensions between freedom and belonging, independence and dependence, and between transcendence and immanence. Love, according to Beauvoir, also exposes how social and gendered structures impact the way love is understood and experienced: “The word ‘love’ has not at all the same meaning for both sexes,” she writes in The Second Sex (1949), “and this is a source of the grave misunderstandings that separate them”.

In her works Beauvoir discusses various kinds of personal love, including maternal love, lesbian love, friendship, and heterosexual love. I will explain how Beauvoir in her portrayal of heterosexual love draws a distinction between two main types, inauthentic and authentic love, and why both sexes commonly will experience inauthentic love in a patriarchal society. Friendships and lesbian relationships, Beauvoir argues, point to ways in which we can surpass convectional myths of love and achieve a relationship closer to her ethical ideal of authentic love. Authentic love is a relationship which is “founded on mutual recognition of two liberties”, and a precondition for experience the “miracle” that can be “achieved by love alone”. 

This event is part of the lecture series Perspectives on Love, in which we will explore different understandings of the concept of love. Read more about the lecture series here

Practical information

This digital event will be in English, and will consist of a 30 minute lecture, followed by 30 minutes of discussion. This event is free and open to the public.

Please follow this link to register for the lecture:


The Zoom link will be sent to your registered email address prior to the event.

For inquiries about the lecture series, please send an email to Anna Young

Published Feb. 8, 2021 8:49 AM - Last modified Mar. 9, 2021 3:19 PM