A philosophy webcomic about the inevitable anguish of living a brief life in an absurd world. Also Jokes

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The Ethics of Ambiguity

Simone de Beauvoir: "So, as you know, Sartre, there are five types of people: losers, nihilists, adventurers, serious men, and existentialists."
Jean-Paul Sartre: "Of course, de Beauvoir everyone knows that."

de Beauvoir: "Well here's what I realized, they all suck except for the existentialists."
Sartre: "Well, yes, I thought that was obvious."
de Beauvoir: "But here's the thing, they don't just suck, they morally suck!"

Sartre: "Whoa, hold on, I thought it was impossible to reconcile morality with existentialism, because existentialism allows for the freedom to do anything, right?"

de Beauvoir: "Wrong. Let's break down why the other five types of people are morally wrong first."

de Beauvoir: "Losers are obviously wrong. They are just sub men who are incapable of asserting themselves. They flee from their freedom either in resentment or passive submission. This cannot be a morally authentic way of engaging in the world."
Image of loser: "I hate everything  but I'm not going to do anything about it."

de Beauvoir: "Next are nihilists. Obviously wrong. They believe their lives are meaningless so proceed to live meaningless lives. They are basically just losers who like being losers. Plus, if they are really nihilists they should really just kill themselves all the time."
Imagine of Nihilist: "Nothing matters, man. We are just floating on a space rock."

de Beauvoir: "Now the serious men of society who believe wholeheartedly in society's rules. At least they believe in something, but society is a pretty dumb thing to believe in. Be it religion, a company, or just the social rules. They cant make moral choices because they cant make real choices at all."
Image of serious man: "What's important in life is to build highways."
de Beauvoir: "Adventures. Badasses. Now they are better than losers, nihilists and serious men, obviously, because at least they are cool. But are they moral? No. No one cool is moral because when push comes to shove, they will always choose being cool over real authentic moral engagements. "
Image of adventurer: "Why climb the mountain? Because it is there."

de Beauvoir: "Now we get to the existentialists, since we've eliminated everyone else, they are the only ones that can be authentically free, on account of the fact that they've read our books."
Image of existentialist: "Wow, Simone de Beauvoir is right, I should live authentically."

Sartre: "Of course. But how does that make them moral?"
de Beauvoir: "Because we are the only ones to recognize that no system can deal with the concrete reality of life. "

de Beauvoir: "It turns out that all moral decisions are always ambiguous, and nothing can guide us in our answers."

Sartre: "Right, so if your answer to morality is that nothing can guide us, that's almost like having...no morality at all."

de Beauvoir: "Well, there are still some rules that can guide us, despite our absolute freedom."

Sartre: "Like what?"
de Beauvoir: "Like don't be a god damn loser, obviously. Pay attention!"
Oh also I forgot one more rule: overthrow the bourgeoisie and create worldwide communism.

The Ethics of Ambiguity was Simone de Beauvoir's attempt to create an ethical system out of the existentialist framework. This is a naturally difficult problem, and one that Sartre tried himself but never really published anything on, because Sartre and de Beauvoir's brand of existentialist centers human freedom, so it becomes very difficult to explain why someone should follow any rules whatsoever, or even why it is worse to authentically be evil. The comic is mostly making fun of the beginning of the work, where she explains the different modes of existence that human beings take, and why they are inauthentic modes of existence. She, rather amusingly, breaks down humanity into five divisions that seem, well...somewhat arbitrary: sub-men (what I called 'losers'), nihilists, adventurers, serious men, and lastly the existential heroes who are following her and Sartre's advice. Of course she doesn't actually think everyone is precisely one of those five types, but more uses them to illustrate how a large number of people flee from their freedom, and thus from their moral responsibility as well.

She does give more positive examples than the comic makes out, like you cannot with consistency use freedom to deny freedom to others. The only way to do this is with a kind of inauthentic, bad faith willing act. If we are to be authentic in the world we must believe the the same thing for others that we believe for ourselves.

The Ethics of Ambiguity was Simone de Beauvoir's attempt to create an ethical system out of the existentialist framework. This is a naturally difficult problem, and one that Sartre tried himself but never really published anything on, because Sartre and de Beauvoir's brand of existentialist centers human freedom, so it becomes very difficult to explain why someone should follow any rules whatsoever, or even why it is worse to authentically be evil. The comic is mostly making fun of the beginning of the work, where she explains the different modes of existence that human beings take, and why they are inauthentic modes of existence. She, rather amusingly, breaks down humanity into five divisions that seem, well...somewhat arbitrary: sub-men (what I called 'losers'), nihilists, adventurers, serious men, and lastly the existential heroes who are following her and Sartre's advice. Of course she doesn't actually think everyone is precisely one of those five types, but more uses them to illustrate how a large number of people flee from their freedom, and thus from their moral responsibility as well.

She does give more positive examples than the comic makes out, like you cannot with consistency use freedom to deny freedom to others. The only way to do this is with a kind of inauthentic, bad faith willing act. If we are to be authentic in the world we must believe the the same thing for others that we believe for ourselves.

Philosophers in this comic: Jean Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir
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