Selected Passage from the reading
Beauvoir S. (1947) The Ethics of Ambiguity. Personal Freedom and Others
“The fact is that it is very rare for the infantile world to maintain itself beyond adolescence. From childhood on, flaws begin to be revealed in it. With astonishment, revolt and disrespect the child little by little asks himself, “why must I act that way? What good is it? And what will happen if I act in another way?” He discovers his subjectivity; he discovers that of others. And when he arrives at the age of adolescence he begins to vacillate because he notices the contradictions among adults as well as their hesitations and weakness. …” (Beauvoir, 337)
Summary and explanation how the philosopher answers the question “What is the good life?” or “what’s the best way to act/be/think like a human?”
The philosopher argues that man’s happiness stems from him been a child at some point in life and most of the choices made can only be explained by taking place in their childhood. The man considers the world as an entity with ready-made things and enjoys childhood where there is freedom of existence. From the selected passage, it is evident that humans tend to understand how best to act and think as a human being. The philosopher states that the childhood stature cannot survive beyond adolescence since individuals start to identify some problems with it. The child starts to revolt and disrespects the very things he/she used to enjoy doing and questions why they have to act in a particular way. They also question its benefits, and what can happen if they act differently. The adolescence stage enables children to discover several issues about the reality of man, and their weaknesses. It is a process of discovery of own identity and the realization of the true nature of the world they live.
Report of someone else about the idea
I asked my friend about the ideas presented in the passage and gave own perspectives on it. He explained that a child is not fully exposed to the real world and understands life based on their interactions with close relatives. However, as a child grows to adolescence, h/she is predisposed to the reality of life and human nature and starts to identify weaknesses on the people they thought were the pacesetters.
According to him, the best way to act and think as a human is where individuals have a clear understanding of why they engage in certain issues and how they impact their lives. He stressed the need to question every aspect of human action by evaluating its relevance to day-to-day experiences. According to him, good life entails having the freedom to choose what to do and how to do since the ultimate consequences are handled individually. As such, children reach adolescence and begin to ask questions because they begin to understand the consequences of every action they take.
Applying own experience
I agree with the philosopher that childhood experiences cannot survive beyond adolescence since it is the stage that humans start to discover their true self.
I have gone through various experiences as a human that show that the philosopher is right about how to live the good life. I used to follow instructions that I should not do ‘this or that,’ ‘touch this or that,’ and many other rules. However, I learned in my adolescence stage that I had to make decisions on my own having understood the consequences of whatever action I took. I believe that a good life is all about freedom of expression, movement, and with an open mind to learn new things in life. I agree with the philosopher that the world is not ready made as children think since individuals have to find their place in it and shape their lives. The person I talked to influenced my thinking especially on how humans ought to live with freedom.
Rule or guideline
Human beings ought to live an autonomous life where no one influences the actions of another. It is a critical aspect towards the self-realization of behavior as well as individual’s purpose in life. Since youthful experiences play a crucial role in shaping human life, young people should be allowed to identify their true identity right from their childhood.
The rule only applies to the mentally sound persons and of appropriate age, who can make decisions on their own having understood the consequences.
Abel D.C (1992) Theories of Human Nature: Classical and Contemporary Readings, The ethics of ambiguity Chapter 2
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