Nov 27, 2014

Glimpses Into Existence: Albert Camus

November has been an extraordinarily busy month -- a number of speaking engagements ranging from radio shows to guest sermons to my more usual fare of talks -- so I've been a bit slow to post here.

One of those talks was the eleventh of the lecture series on Existentialist thinkers -- this time on Albert Camus.  We're finishing up the year-long series with a focus on French thinkers at the core of what I've been calling "third-generation" or "third-wave Existentialism" -- Sartre, de Beauvoir, Marcel (coming up in December) and of course Camus.

The way I categorize this "third wave" is by saying that it includes those thinkers who are part of the movement, centered particularly in France, when it becomes a prevalent enough philosophical and literary movement to start drawing attention outside those circles -- when people who have only tangential connections with Existentialism start using the word, if not necessarily having some clear conception of what the term might mean.  It's the stage where Existentialism becomes a "success story," so to speak.

Camus, of course, registered his discomfort with the label -- but that's not quite enough to propel him outside of its orbits.  After all, so did Heidegger and Marcel!  There's certainly enough points of confluence between his thought and those of other "existentialist" figures  -- despite his critical rejection of their views, projects, and works at many points -- to justify corralling him back in there from the long-view perspective of history.

There's much more to be said about that topic -- and about some of the others that were raised during this session -- but I'll reserve those for future posts.  I'll close just by mentioning something quite cool that happened after this lecture.  It has to do with those other two men in the picture above.  They drove from Connecticut -- 2 hours -- on a Saturday morning, to attend the lecture, and told me that afterwards.  So. . .  we went out to lunch, along with some of the other attendees. 

For me, that's an incredibly auspicious sign -- twenty-somethings who are hungry for the kind of intellectual and cultural stimulation that we try to provide in these lectures, and which the Kingston Library makes space for by hosting!

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