The Ethics of Ambiguity; Chapter Abstracts for Teachers

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Chapter 1, Ambiguity and Freedom

• Beauvoir starts "The Ethics of Ambiguity" with the Montaigne quote, "The continuous work of our life is to build death."

• She states that the nature of life creates an ambiguous existence that philosophers throughout history have tried to mask.

• She compares various approaches to the ambiguity of life; dualism attempts to establish an hierarchy between body and soul; materialists try to reduce the mind to the body; existentialists claim everything is created from the mind.

• Philosophical ethics has done the same.

• However, these ideologies do not console our natural disorder on any deep level, as men feel the paradox of their condition.

• The more powerful men grow, the more they are swept along by forces beyond their control. Beauvoir suggests that the philosophy of the human should begin by admitting ambiguity.
• Existentialism first defined itself as recognized ambiguity.

• Existentialism sees life as absurd and...

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