Intellectual Culture

This blog post is about two intellectual cultures that existed in France roughly after world war two. Intellectual cultures are social orders that allow members to grow by accepting common symbols. Like the worlds cultivate, a relative, intellectual cultures develop like-minded thinkers and bring people together united by a common concept.

Paris is France’s intellectual nucleus. It is where Jean Paul Sartre, Simon de Beauvoir, and Albert Camus lived and wrote. Even though the three of them lived and wrote around the same period of history before and after World War II there were two distinct intellectual cultures that existed around the personalities of Sartre-Beauvoir and Camus, and each of these cultures also identified with a different place in the city.

Sartre and de Beauvoir, both, writers and philosophers matured on the café’s of Blvd St. Germain. Sartre embraced communism and openly supported anti-American groups. Sartre’s is a leading figure in 20t century French Philosophy and existentialism. Simone de Beauvoir and him were close friends and colleagues. Beauvoir’s literally work is credited as the foundation of feminism.

During this time Albert Camus and Jean P. Sartre had a widely publicized falling out. Camus, an Algerian by birth but a French National, dedicated his work to opposing nihilisms, though he socialized with communists he himself never embraced the ideology. His book L’Express won him the Nobel Prize in 1947. He is the second youngest to ever receive the award. He was a frequent of Blvd St Germain cafés

So he components of intellectual culture are an inner character, beliefs, and position. All three of these components are present in the two intellectual cultures around Sartre-de Beauvoir and around Camus. Serendipitously, the two were at odds but still prospered in their own time as well as recent history. Presently in France Preside Nicolas Szarcozy is lobbying for Camus to be entombed in the pantheon with the likes of Voltaire, Hugo, Dumas, and Zola. Sartre is recognized as a central figure in 20t century French Philosophy.

On thing the two intellectual cultures share in common the Café de Floré on Blvd St. Germain near Place St. Michel. Funny, that I am writing this having enjoyed an espresso with friends at the very same café today (the 19th of January). Like the three distinct personalities of Sartre, de Beauvoir and Camus, each of the friends I shared an end of class celebration with has a distinct personality.

Despite, all having the same French grammar professor each of us are maturing, in our own way. I did not need to go all the way to France to find this out but I am happy I did? Blvd St. Germain just as ASU is a place for an intellectual culture to fully grow. In fact anyone around could be the next Sartre, de Beauvoir or Camus, possibly passing time will tell. Another common shared trait is none of these three grew by oneself.

4 thoughts

  1. My point is that a learning community such as a university is an essential place for intellect to mature. In America it can happen at University, but what is more important is that we find a way to continue to mature intellectually as we get older. Which is why remaining in a place that enables intellectual growth is important. In Paris, cafe’s are an important place outside of the classroom or a library where students come together to build there own intellectual culture.

  2. Forgive my ignorance, but is Sartre in consideration for honors like Camus? If he has already been entombed or celebrated with a monument or something of that equivalence, I apologize. I think it would simply be funny if people preferred Camus absolutely over Sartre when Sartre basically began many of Camus’ ideas.

    I’m very jealous of you for having sat in that safe cafe and having friends with you who acknowledge its significance.

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