The Ethics of Ambiguity

by

Simone De Beauvoir

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The Adventurer Character Analysis

The adventurer correctly recognizes that there are no absolute, readymade values in the world, and then takes advantage of this ambiguity in order to zealously pursue personal projects. However, unlike a genuinely free person, the adventurer is driven not by a commitment to people’s collective freedom, but rather merely by a taste for power and desire for conquest. Examples include explorers who are indifferent to the number of people they murder and prolific lovers who care more about seducing others than treating them with dignity. Accordingly, while the adventurer is “close to a genuinely moral attitude,” he has the right freedom but directs it wrongly, particularly because he does not understand the mutual interdependence between his own freedom and everyone else’s.

The Adventurer Quotes in The Ethics of Ambiguity

The The Ethics of Ambiguity quotes below are all either spoken by The Adventurer or refer to The Adventurer. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Existentialism and Ethics Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Citadel edition of The Ethics of Ambiguity published in 1948.
Part 2 Quotes

It is obvious that this choice is very close to a genuinely moral attitude. The adventurer does not propose to be; he deliberately makes himself a lack of being; he aims expressly at existence; though engaged in his undertaking, he is at the same time detached from the goal. Whether he succeeds or fails, he goes right ahead throwing himself into a new enterprise to which he will give himself with the same indifferent ardor. It is not from things that he expects the justification of his choices. Considering such behavior at the moment of its subjectivity, we see that it conforms to the requirements of ethics, and if existentialism were solipsistic, as is generally claimed, it would have to regard the adventurer as its perfect hero.

Related Characters: Simone de Beauvoir (speaker), The Adventurer
Page Number: 63
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Adventurer Character Timeline in The Ethics of Ambiguity

The timeline below shows where the character The Adventurer appears in The Ethics of Ambiguity. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 2: Personal Freedom and Others
Ambiguity, Being, and Existence Theme Icon
Freedom Theme Icon
...pretext […] for a gratuitous display of activity.” A person who does this is an adventurer: one who takes on projects energetically and zealously, but cares more about conquest and “action... (full context)
Existentialism and Ethics Theme Icon
Freedom Theme Icon
The adventurer is “very close to a genuinely moral attitude,” choosing to become “a lack of being”... (full context)
Politics, Ethics, and Liberation Theme Icon
A more significant problem for the adventurer is that he has to deal with other people who confront him along his path.... (full context)
Politics, Ethics, and Liberation Theme Icon
But the characteristic adventurer simply ignores his impact on other people, who (like the nihilist) he sees as instruments... (full context)
Ambiguity, Being, and Existence Theme Icon
Freedom Theme Icon
The opposite of the adventurer is the passionate man. The adventurer achieves subjective freedom, but without directing himself to the... (full context)