Sartre for the Twenty-First Century?


Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980) is considered by many to be the "philosopher of the twentieth century." He came to exemplify a certain form of public intellectual, what Bourdieu critically calls a "total intellectual," by virtually dominating French intellectual life (literature, philosophy, culture) during the early post-World War II period. When France laid him to rest in 1980, a huge turnout of some 50,000 following in his funeral procession was called "the last demonstration of the 1960s." The centenary of his birth some 25 years later in 2005 was less celebratory. Indeed, as Annie Cohen-Solal remarks in the opening article of this Theory and Society symposium devoted to Sartre, the French press, with few exceptions, overwhelmingly treated Sartre's centenary negatively. Moreover, the contrast to 1980 was paralleled by another: Cohen-Solal juxtaposes the positive international recognition of Sartre's contributions with the generally negative assessment at home.


Theory and Society, Vol. 36, No. 3 (June, 2007), pp. 215-222