“Regardless of the staggering dimensions of the world about us, the density of our ignorance, the risks of catastrophes to come, and our individual weakness within the immense collectivity, the fact remains that we are absolutely free today if we choose to will our existence in its finiteness, a finiteness which is open on the infinite. And in fact, any man who has known real loves, real revolts, real desires, and real will knows quite well that he has no need of any outside guarantee to be sure of his goals; their certitude comes from his own drive.”
― Simone de Beauvoir, The Ethics of Ambiguity
“The continuous work of our life, is to build death”
The opening line in The Ethics of Ambiguity by Simone de Beauvoir summarised everything about this book.
In this book, de Beauvoir simply asked, what if we’re never meant to be completed as people, what if being a human being is not just black and white like that, how do we use our freedom and ambiguity. Sartre said “being and nothingness”, de Beauvoir observed, sure Sartre, I am what I am but at the same time I also am what I am not yet, and that is our task to look into the ambiguity and absurdity of our lives. “let us look the truth in the face. Let us try to assume our fundamental ambiguity. It is in the knowledge of genuine conditions of our life that we must draw our strength to live and our reason to acting”, “our tasks we have set up for ourselves and which, though exceeding the limits of our lives, are ours, must find their meaning in themselves and not in a mythical Historical end.”
“Life in itself is neither good nor evil, it is the place of good and evil, according to what you make it”
Although this book has a lot of philosophy technical terms but de Beauvoir made it pretty concise and boiled down to the point. It is such a great introduction to Existentialism and pretty liberated reading experience. And especially for me, in every works of her that I’ve read, I’m very fond of how de Beauvoir wrote about life in details so compassionately. “any man who has known real loves, real revolts, real desires, and real will knows quite well that he has no need of any outside guarantee to be sure of his goals; their certificate comes from his own drive.”