The Aesthetic Attitude in the Ethics of Ambiguity

Simone de Beauvoir Studies 18:31-48 (2001-2002)
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This essay aims to address a lack of recognition on the part of aestheticians, feminist scholars in the visual arts, as well as Simone de Beauvoir scholars by studying Beauvoir's The Ethics of Ambiguity (1948) for what it has to offer on the topic of art and aesthetics: (1) the important role of the visual arts in society and the political legacy artists can contribute to the world; (2) the traditionally revered philosophical concept of the aesthetic attitude; and (30 the use of the aesthetic attitude to improperly justify controversial works of art. It will also point out that Beauvoir's Ethics is distinct in the history of aesthetics for its atypical (proto-feminist) stand against the popular notion of the aesthetic attitude. Her promotion of political (feminist) art presages the feminist art movement of the 1970s. Ahead of her time, Beauvoir recognized the vital interplay between art and ethics.
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