In 1979, Edward Said was invited by Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir to France for a conference on Middle East peace. It was in the wake of the Camp David Accords that ended the war between Egypt and Israel, that the author of “Orientalism” and ardent supporter of the Palestinian people, was invited to contribute with other prominent thinkers. Said offered effusive praise for Sartre when recounting his adventure, writing for the London Review of Books: “He was never condescending or evasive, even if he was given to error and overstatement. Nearly everything he wrote is interesting for its sheer audacity, its freedom (even its freedom to be verbose) and its generosity of spirit” But despite admiring Sartre and de Beauvoir, Said was disappointed after meeting his intellectual heroes. Upon arriving in France, Said received a mysterious note informing him that, for security reason, the proceedings were to be held in the home of Michel Foucault. Upon arriving, Said encountered de
George Orwell never dabbled much in philosophy “proper,” despite the highly political underpinnings of his work. But when philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre wrote “The Portrait of the Antisemite” in 1945, Orwell was offered an opportunity to give his thoughts on the famous French existentialist. “I have just had Sartre’s book on antisemitism, which you published, to review. I think Sartre is a bag of wind and I am going to give him a good boot.” That letter, to his publisher, was actually about his final attempts at completing his famous book “Nineteen Eighty-Four.” It’s only in the final paragraph that Orwell decides to warn his publisher that he intends to give Sartre a “good boot,” before wishing to give everyone his love. Orwell would indeed go on to give Sartre a “good boot.” As Open Culture notes, Orwell published his review of Sartre’s book the next month, in November of 1948. Antisemitism is obviously a subject that needs serious study, but it seems unlikely that it will get it in
Pop singer Taylor Swift is making rounds on lefty social media after a fan Twitter posted a picture of her and writer Hermione Hoby, who was donning a “Philosophy for Militants” tote bag. W
Re-published, with permission, from Existential Comics.
Before “37 Totally Awesome Lemurs,” before “23 Things Every Who Grew Up in Knows” and before everyone became obsessed with rules for writing according to revered authors, there was Friedrich Nietzsche and a simple listical he wrote to friend. The famous ponderer of nihilism and morality, in a series of letters from August 1882, laid out his thoughts on writing to his unrequited love, Lou Andreas-Salomé. The list reads: 1. Of prime necessity is life: a style should live. 2. Style should be suited to the specific person with whom you wish to communicate. (The law of mutual relation.) 3. First, one must determine precisely “what-and-what do I wish to say and present,” before you may write. Writing must be mimicry. 4. Since the writer lacks many of the speaker’s means, he must in general have for his model a very expressive kind of presentation of necessity, the written copy will appear much paler. 5. The richness of life reveals itself through a richness of gestures. One must learn to
Philosophy and law professor Brian Leiter has drawn the ire of feminists after suggesting that “rape” and “sexual assault” are two distinct offenses, both legally and morally. Leiter’s comments arose after a court dismissed another philosopher’s defamation lawsuit against a newspaper, arguing that the word “rape” was acceptable in lieu of “sexual assault.” The case concerned philosopher Peter Ludlow of Northwestern University, who was accused of sexually assaulting a student over two years ago. As Slate writes: According to her complaint, the student originally accused Ludlow of getting her drunk, and then kissing and groping her while she blacked out. An internal investigation by Northwestern’s Sexual Harassment Prevention Office found in the student’s favor—Ludlow had broken the school rules that protect against sexual harassment, the university’s committee found. The student hoped he would be fired, or at least disciplined. Instead, she claims, Northwestern stood by ineffectually
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