Albert Einstein's Surprising Thoughts on the Meaning of Life - Big Think
Bakewell, a former London book curator who studied philosophy at the University of Leeds, likes wordy subtitles. Even the screenplays of Terrence Malick, with their heavy doses of Martin Heidegger, swing briefly into view.
She draws on each one, symphonically, to make a case for existentialism as more pertinent to the 21st century than a nostalgia for black turtlenecks, booze, cigarettes and rebellious alienation. This exchange, Bakewell says, was the birth of modern existentialism. De Beauvoir would approve of this approach.
Further, Bakewell writes, this masterpiece should have entered the modern canon alongside the books of Karl Marx, Charles Darwin and Sigmund Freud. It exploded deeply cherished cultural myths, not in relation to economics, biology or the unconscious but in our lives as gendered beings. What went wrong? Bakewell suggests the fault lay in a gutted English translation, a soft-porn-ish paperback cover and generic sexism.
That book rewarded its readers with a seat at a 4-century-long dinner party at which the essays of Montaigne are bowdlerized by the Catholic Church, then rescued and taken up Rene Descartes, Blaise Pascal, Friedrich Nietzsche and Virginia Woolf. When Bakewell started reading philosophy, the ideas lighted her up. It makes the pages fly. As Bakewell notes, people still struggle to lead authentic, free and ethical lives.
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