Simone de Beauvoir: “One’s life has value so long as one attributes value to the life of others, by means of love, friendship, indignation and compassion.”
Simone de Beauvoir was a French philosopher, feminist, and writer, who is widely known for her work on existentialism and feminism. This quote encapsulates much of her philosophical stance.
“One’s life has value so long as one attributes value to the life of others,” – This part of the quote suggests that the value or meaning of our own life is deeply intertwined with how we value and treat others.
If we do not see and respect the value in others’ lives, our own life loses value or meaning as well.
“by means of love, friendship, indignation and compassion.” – De Beauvoir then further specifies the means through which we attribute value to others’ lives: love, friendship, indignation, and compassion. Love and friendship are quite straightforward – they represent positive and caring relationships with others.
Indignation here would mean a sense of anger or annoyance provoked by what is perceived as unfair treatment of others. It speaks to the idea that standing up against injustices done to others is also a way of valuing their lives.
Compassion is the feeling of empathy and understanding for the suffering of others, and the desire to alleviate it. By being compassionate, we acknowledge and respect the struggles and feelings of others, which is another way of valuing their lives.
In sum, de Beauvoir’s quote is a profound statement about the interconnectedness of lives and the moral duty we have to value and respect the lives of others through our relationships, our stands against injustice, and our compassion. It asserts that the value of our own life is inherently tied to the respect and value we give to others.