Into the Looking Glass: The Mirror of Old Age in Beauvoir and Améry

Ryan Crawford


Although the pandemic's early months were witness to a nearly unprecedented level of public concern for the plight of the old, such attention did not lead to much sustained analysis into either the concrete experience of old age or the many ways in which a greater knowledge of aging might prove instructive for rethinking the possibilities of contemporary philosophy and social change. The present paper seeks to pursue this otherwise neglected line of inquiry by recovering a previously unexplored episode from the history of social theory in which Simone de Beauvoir and Jean Améry set themselves before the mirror of old age in order to there explore reflections as inimical to their time as our own. For what this intertextual scene of contestation so clearly demonstrates is that the aging body is itself a body of knowledge capable of transforming the very ideologies and social systems that continue to deform the lives of old and young alike.


Social Philosophy; Old Age; Simone de Beauvoir; Jean Améry; Critical Theory

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