Amy Campbell Library > Biography > At the Existentialist Café: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails with Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus, Martin Heidegger, Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Others

At the Existentialist Café: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails with Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus, Martin Heidegger, Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Others

By Sarah Bakewell

From the best-selling writer of How to Live, a lively account of 1 of the 20 th century’s significant highbrow hobbies and the innovative thinkers who got here to form it
Paris, 1933: 3 contemporaries meet over apricot cocktails on the Bec-de-Gaz bar at the rue Montparnasse. they're the younger Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and longtime good friend Raymond Aron, a fellow thinker who raves to them a couple of new conceptual framework from Berlin known as Phenomenology. “You see,” he says, “if you're a phenomenologist you could discuss this cocktail and make philosophy out of it!”
It was once this straightforward word that may ignite a circulation, inspiring Sartre to combine Phenomenology into his personal French, humanistic sensibility, thereby growing a completely new philosophical procedure encouraged through topics of radical freedom, genuine being, and political activism. This move may sweep throughout the jazz golf equipment and cafés of the Left financial institution ahead of making its manner the world over as Existentialism.
Featuring not just philosophers, but additionally playwrights, anthropologists, convicts, and revolutionaries, At the Existentialist Café follows the existentialists’ tale, from the 1st rebellious spark in the course of the moment international conflict, to its function in postwar liberation pursuits corresponding to anticolonialism, feminism, and homosexual rights. Interweaving biography and philosophy, it's the epic account of passionate encounters—fights, amorous affairs, mentorships, rebellions, and lengthy partnerships—and an essential research into what the existentialists need to supply us this present day, at a second after we are once more confronting the most important questions of freedom, worldwide accountability, and human authenticity in a fractious and technology-driven international.

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No matter if the location is insufferable — maybe you're dealing with execution, or sitting in a Gestapo criminal, or approximately to fall off a cliff — you're still loose to choose what to make of it in brain and deed. ranging from the place you're now, you decide. And in picking out, you furthermore mght pick out who you can be. If this sounds tricky and unnerving, it’s since it is. Sartre doesn't deny that the necessity to preserve making judgements brings consistent anxiousness. He heightens this nervousness by way of mentioning that what you do rather issues. you might want to make your offerings as if you have been picking out on behalf of the full of humanity, taking the full burden of accountability for the way the human race behaves. for those who stay away from this accountability by means of fooling your self that you're the sufferer of condition or of somebody else’s undesirable recommendation, you're failing to fulfill the calls for of human existence and selecting a pretend life, bring to an end out of your personal ‘authenticity’. besides the terrifying facet of this comes an outstanding promise: Sartre’s existentialism means that it really is attainable to be actual and unfastened, so long as you retain up the hassle. it really is exhilarating to precisely a similar measure that it’s scary, and for a similar purposes. As Sartre summed it up in an interview almost immediately after the lecture: there isn't any traced-out route to lead guy to his salvation; he needs to consistently invent his personal course. yet, to invent it, he's loose, dependable, with out excuse, and each wish lies inside him. It’s a bracing idea, and was once an enticing one in 1945, whilst validated social and political associations were undermined through the struggle. In France and in other places, many had sturdy cause to disregard the hot previous and its ethical compromises and horrors, as a way to concentrate on new beginnings. yet there have been deeper purposes to hunt renewal. Sartre’s viewers heard his message at a time whilst a lot of Europe lay in ruins, information of Nazi dying camps had emerged, and Hiroshima and Nagasaki have been destroyed through atom bombs. The conflict had made humans realize that they and their fellow people have been able to departing totally from civilised norms; no ask yourself the assumption of a set human nature appeared questionable. no matter what new international used to be going to come up out of the previous one, it'll most likely have to be equipped with no trustworthy assistance from assets of authority comparable to politicians, non secular leaders, or even philosophers — the previous type of philosophers, that's, of their distant and summary worlds. yet the following was once a brand new form of thinker, able to wade in and ideally fitted to the duty. Sartre’s massive query within the mid-1940s used to be: on condition that we're loose, how do we use our freedom good in such not easy occasions? In his essay ‘The finish of the War’, written simply after Hiroshima and released in October 1945 — an identical month because the lecture — he extorted his readers to choose what sort of international they sought after, and make it ensue. any further, he wrote, we should keep in mind our wisdom that we will be able to wreck ourselves at will, with all our historical past and maybe existence on the earth itself.

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