The Ethics of Ambiguity

by

Simone De Beauvoir

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The Ethics of Ambiguity Terms

Ambiguity

Most specifically, by talking about life’s ambiguity, Simone de Beauvoir points to the sense in which life has no fixed meaning, but that rather its meaning is up to every individual, depending on their… read analysis of Ambiguity

Being

Following Sartre, de Beauvoir uses “being” and “existence” to refer to two different aspects of human experience. Being refers to the definable character or essence of something or someone. Therefore, when de… read analysis of Being

Disclosure

A complex term expounded most significantly by Heidegger, the concept of disclosure refers to the sense in which one’s actions meaningfully reveal one’s underlying self: for instance, by choosing to join a certain political struggle… read analysis of Disclosure

Ethics

Broadly speaking, ethics is the branch of philosophy that deals with questions of value, including what people ought to do, what is right and wrong, and what the best kind of human life looks like… read analysis of Ethics

Existence

As distinguished from being, existence is simply something’s status as a thing in the world, and human existence in particular is defined by people’s freedom to act and believe what they want, their inability… read analysis of Existence
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Existentialism

A loose term for the ideas of a group of philosophers, artists, and writers who think about morality and action from the perspective of the human individual living in a concrete world, rather than in… read analysis of Existentialism

Facticity

A term with a variety of meanings in different philosophical contexts, but which for de Beauvoir and Sartre specifically refers to the brute facts about any given individual, divorced from their freedom and willread analysis of Facticity

Freedom

The central concept in de Beauvoir’s system, which refers to the simple fact that people have the capacity to choose how to act, even if they have to undertake these actions in a world… read analysis of Freedom

Marxism

A school of thought and politics based on the insights of Karl Marx. Marxism focuses primarily on the material economic relations between different social classes and political Marxists attempt to spur (and have often… read analysis of Marxism

Morality

A term closely related to ethics. In general, at least as the terms are used in this book, ethics is a field of philosophical inquiry that tries to understand morality, or what is good… read analysis of Morality

Revolt

For de Beauvoir, revolt is a unique form of action because it is one of the only ways to embrace freedom through negativity: rather than building freedom through the pursuit of certain positive goals… read analysis of Revolt

Subjectivity

A term with two related but distinct uses. First, subjectivity is the state of having an individual, particular perspective on the world and acting from that perspective. For de Beauvoir, this is characteristic of… read analysis of Subjectivity

Transcendence

The opposite of facticity: the capacity to become something other than what one already is, as well as the process of doing so. For de Beauvoir, people are constantly transcending themselves, growing into… read analysis of Transcendence

Will

The capacity to decide between alternatives and pursue a particular alternative. To “will oneself free” therefore means to make the decisions and take the actions involved in affirming and pursuing one’s freedom. While in… read analysis of Will