Existentialism in brief

Just in case you're not willing or able to take on the whole of Sarah Blakewell's At the Existentialist Cafe, (New York, 2016) I thought I'd provide you easy access to some points from her summary on page on page 34.  Sometimes it's good to just have a solid reference point to play your ideas against, particularly if you are reading works by Sartre or Camus.  These, remember, are her 'take' on some important facets that she sees in the ...

The New Hedonism of Michel Onfray

Michel Onfray has set himself the seemingly unsurmountable challenge of toppling over what he regards as the false idols of the philosophical Parthenon. Influenced by Nietzsche but especially by late ancient materialist thinkers such as Democritus and Epicurus, he defends a new form of hedonism described as ‘an introspective attitude to life’ based on the unselfish pursuit of pleasure. He is not talking, here, about Bentham’s felicific calculus but about the careful and reasoned care and management of the self ...

Philosophy and Solitude (2)

The Enlightenment was an international movement which was made possible thanks to the numerous links and bonds established throughout Europe by a new generation of thinkers united against state despotism and church intolerance. Among them, Rousseau appeared like a dissident as he willingly chose to retreat from public life after his quarrel with his philosopher friends. This semi-voluntary solitude inspired his most intense works as he undertook to analyse and depict his inner nature away from the critical eyes of ...

Sartre, the phenomenological tourist

 Sartre does not regard water as a friendly, natural element but as another foreign body, imposed on his senses and carrying negative connotations of sliminess and viscosity. He had, in fact, a particular aversion to all sea-food and when he suffered from the prolonged side-effects of a bad mescaline experience, he was haunted by images of giant lobsters pursuing him in his waking hours. The location of his novel Nausea is Bouville, literally, ‘Mud-city’, an hostile sea-side resort, closer to ...