Philosophical Context in Simone De Beauvoir’s Work The Ethics of Ambiguity

June 22, 2022 by Essay Writer

Simone de Beauvoir was a French existentialist philosopher and an astonishing influential writer who thought, as well as administered the idea, with unique regards, that all that is systematically human is free. Amongst this course of idealism, provoked other projections of liberated disciplines such as feminism and social theories. Beauvoir is universally known by giving us insight on who we can be versus who we are. Beauvoir confess this by saying, “but the present is not a potential past, it is the moment of choice and action”. In this essay I will explain in detail the general characterization of the aesthetic attitude along with what Beauvoir deems to be problematic for such an attitude.

The inspirational classic, The Ethics of Ambiguity, Beauvoir cultivates the readers mind with philosophical statements such as “The world in which he engages himself is a human world in which each object is penetrated with human meaning”. I understand this to be true with no objection. What the eyes see, the ears hear, and what is touched and tasted are all reflections on what the mind is directed to believe. This believe is what generates the very core of our existence because without any of it, how do we justify our placement in this world. Most of our happiness and sorrow comes from that which is lost and gained through human conflict and consumption which is, at its nature, all tangible and subjective. I think what Beauvoir calls “the aesthetic attitude” is contrary to my carnal way of thinking of believe and existence. I assume the author points out that such an attitude appears in moments of discouragement and confusion.

Beauvoir suggest that is a position of withdrawal, a way of fleeing the truth of the present. I think what Beauvoir meant about a man bearing the aesthetic attitude is overwhelmed with the belief that freedom is in the heart and if we can not birth freedom inside ourselves, then we are all subject to own self destruction. The man with the aesthetic attitude imagines the world as a box of which if we do not find out then surly it would mean our expiration.

This man with unquenchable passion, believes that for one not to be free comes from a sense of not belonging. He convinces himself that he does not belong to this world and its subjectivity much less the world and its subjectivity belonging to him and his vision. Every time he comes into embracing distance with that of which is considered “freedom”, he hears the deafening hiss of a thousand snakes. So, it is not freedom that the man with the aesthetic attitude is enthralled with, it is the thirst for the lust of the world. he will surrender his dignity for a splash of belonging.

Beauvoir further explains her position of the aesthetic attitude by saying “this aesthetic justification is sometimes so striking that it betrays the authors aim”. For example a poet would say, “pain and agony has baked its way into my sleep. Why does every step fill like my last step? Why does every breath I take hurts like its my last breath? How can disobedience be the only element I taste? How can I vomit on the obvious and find reality in my waste? I can not look at the man in the mirror because the man in the mirror is appalled whenever he sees my face and every hint of recognition has vanished without a trace. I am miserable from being forced into the pattern of self-destruction this world has artistically portrayed.

I’m burning with fever from contaminated promises and man’s cold ways”. Beauvoir explained this attitude when she talked about the children working in the sweatshops and the authors aim is betrayed by the way he writes. In similarity, the poets aim is also a victim of aesthetic justification. This is so because the reader is enchanted by rhythm, imagery and rhyme scheme of the poem. The reader has no interest n the fact that this man can not eat or sleep because of the creative tone of the poem itself.

Beauvoir says, “will we not then be inclined to think that if death, misery, and injustice can be transfigured for our delight, it is not an evil for there to be death, misery, and justice?”. I would say yes, because the power lies within the story teller. The tool he uses is the very thing that most of us fear most; our fear of abandonment, our fear of rejection and of war and starvation. The author does not necessarily have to experience these circumstances, all he must do is paint the picture and allow the reader to predict the weather. We give it power by have the aesthetic justification attitude.

Beauvoir gives us a way out of this way of thinking by saying, “but here too we must not confuse the present with the past. Regarding the past, no further action is possible.” I take this to mean that if we indulge ourselves with past relevance’s then we ourselves our part of that past indefinitely. We are like the Italian, occupied in caressing the marbles and bronzes of Florence which Beauvoir describes. She tells us that, “all we can do is integrate it into the human heritage, to raise it to the dignity of the of the aesthetic existence which bears within itself its finality.’

If we rely on past relevance such as the fall of Rome to influence our judgement today, does that some how defy free will? If so, would our personal identity be otherwise reference of the pas as well? Through out history, humans have been subject to falter, fail, misjudge and exaggerate because of this aesthetic attitude. Simone says that, “in order for the artist to have a world to express he must first be situated in this world, oppressed or oppressing, resigned or rebellious, a man among men.”9 If all of what we know comes from human testimony and conquest, how can we be sure that are existence is for certain? Beauvoir explains, “he must first will freedom within himself and universally; he must try to conquer it.”

If we are the salt of the earth, then Beauvoir must be the pepper. The Ethics of Ambiguity is an expresson of litetature that provokes a reader’s imagination or emotion. Nevertheless, it is a powerful academic tool and a important art to study at any age. I come to believe that people have read this book for all sorts of reasons regardless of the seasons. For me, The Ethics of Ambiguity is a way to escape the realms of contempary realities and bend them to shape another reality. This reality is a mere figment of my imatination that mirrors what I see, taste, feel, hear, smell, and believe. Without these entities, my desire to fully understand this book is deluded and subject to waste. The problem for me does not lay in the subject matter, it lies in the comprehension of my senses.


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