At the Existentialist Café - Chapter 1 Summary & Analysis

Sarah Bakewell
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Summary

Modern existentialism was born in a Parisian bar in 1932. Three friends (Raymond Aron, Simone de Beauvoir, and Jean-Paul Sartre) sat down to discuss the state of philosophy over apricot cocktails. They realized that philosophy generally consists of futile epistemological questions (those questioning how one can know what one knows). However, Aron had studied in Berlin and brought back knowledge of a new branch of philosophy called phenomenology. Phenomenology was much more down-to-earth, and discussed life as it was experienced— “To the things themselves!” (2). Inspired, Sartre decided to study in Berlin.

Afterward, Sartre began to write about philosophy. He mostly wrote about the meaning of freedom, which he saw as the core of what it meant to be human. This idea was expressed as the slogan “existence precedes essence” (8). By 1945, Sartre had become somewhat of a celebrity, and his public lectures were always overfilled. In...

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This section contains 1,193 words
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