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The Ethics of Ambiguity - Part 3.1 to 3.3

In "The Ethics of Ambiguity", Simone de Beauvoir outlines an existentialist ethics, beginning with the central existentialist premise that "existence precedes essence."

For this meetup we will be reading Part 3, sections 1 - 3 ("The Aesthetic Attitude" through "The Antinomies of Action")  Click HERE for the reading.  No previous reading required.

To recap: In Part 2,  De Beauvoir described various attitudes of bad faith people take to escape the burden of subjectivity. 

The sub-man who maintains his presence as bare facticity. The sub-man is afraid of engaging himself in a project of an open future and takes refuge in the “serious world”. 

The serious man who subordinates his freedom to absolute, external values. The thing that matters to the serious man is not so much the nature of the object which he prefers to himself, but rather the fact of being able to lose himself in it.” 

The nihilist who instead of realizing his negativity as a living movement, as serious man does, conceives his annihilation in a substantial way. He wants to be nothing. “Nihilism is disappointed seriousness which has turned back upon itself”. 

The adventurer The adventurer does not seek justification for his choices in things, like the serous man does, he is fully engaged yet “detached from his goal”. The initial movement of thrusting himself into the world and engaging his freedom is very close to the attitude of a genuinely free man. But the adventurer thinks he can assert his own existence without taking into account the existence of others.

This leads in to Part 3 where she further explores her ethics and the idea that  “Any doctrine that aims at the liberation of man evidently cannot rest on the contempt for the individual.”

 




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  • Chad B.

    April 21, 2014

    • Sics Arts I.

      You must know the whole script by heart to post a relevant clip! :)

      1 · April 19, 2014

    • Chad B.

      I've only seen it once. However movie themes are easy for me to recognize and that ends up being the only thing I remember later.

      April 20, 2014

  • Brian

    Tonight made me proud to be among philosophers sharing good, honest discussion about what matters in life. Cheers, all.

    1 · April 19, 2014

  • Brian

    A lot of this is captured by Aristotle's Ethics. The excellence of being X (horse, eye, man) also involves its continual flourishing

    April 19, 2014

  • Rick O.

    Can you start the meetup with a quick summary of the previous sections? - that may help.

    2 · April 19, 2014

    • Brian

      The end of the previous section closes very strongly. I recommend taking another look

      April 19, 2014

    • Rick O.

      good call - thanks

      April 19, 2014

  • Rick O.

    I like where she compares modern day Portugal with Nazi Germany

    April 18, 2014

  • Brian

    Basically, to the extent we're becoming more free and universal, we're already doing Hegel. This section starts off making clear there's no moral action in thinking Hegel's system

    April 18, 2014

    • Chad B.

      I'm not sure that anything she says about Hegel significantly adds to what she already said about Marx. But ultimately I'm interested in the "positive aspects" of ambiguity (i.e., what does the world look like when all "false philosophy" is dispatched) and (in proportion to word count) I'm starting to feel teased.

      April 18, 2014

    • Rick O.

      If, as she states, the goal of humanity is to uncover being, then being teased would be a highly effective means.

      1 · April 18, 2014

  • mariann

    I forgot that I'll be in Milwaukee for Easter weekend. Have fun guys! This has definitely been one of my favorite readings. :) Hopefully next time!

    April 14, 2014

  • Derwin

    Do we have to read the text before this meetup or are we reading the text together at this meetup? Thanks!

    March 14, 2014

    • Brian

      Most will read in advance. We will discuss at Eva's. No live reading usually.

      March 14, 2014

  • mariann

    Who posted this? Love the "character synopses"! :)

    1 · March 14, 2014

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