Top positive review
18 people found this helpful
A Concise Summary of Existentialism
on December 23, 2012
"As soon as one considers a system abstractly and theoretically, one puts himself, in effect on the plane of the universal, thus , of the infinite. That is why reading the Hegelian system is so comforting. I remember having experienced a great feeling of calm on reading Hegel... But once I got into the street again, into my life, out of the system, beneath a real sky, the system was no longer of any us to me... I think that, inversely, existentialism does not offer to the reader the consolations of an abstract evasion: existentialism proposes no evasion." -- Simone de Beauvoir
"The Ethics of Ambiguity" is the most concise overview of Existentialist ethics I have read. In "Being and Nothingness" Sartre eschewed an ethical system in favor of focusing almost exclusively on ontological relationships. Here, Beauvoir takes "Being and Nothingness" and extends it into an ethical system.
There are two major parts to "Ethics of Ambiguity". The first part focuses on different degrees of personal freedom. Degrees of understanding range from: the sub-man, serious man, nihilist, adventurer, passionate man, and, finally, the independent man. The independent man understands his own freedom. He also understands the necessity of freedom for other men for him to be free.
The second part of the book is a description of how to use personal freedom. Man must live for a concrete objective. This objective is constantly transcending and can never be captured. The object of transcendence is determined by individual freedom within the context of social freedom.
Beauvoir's prescriptions to political change remain both critical and revolutionary. She constantly stresses the need to evaluate the situation and not act rash. The individual must not submit to dogma. However, a choice must be made. Many times the choice will not be ideal and blood must be shed. Beauvoir's Existentialism does not feign from making tough choices.