An excerpt from Ronald Aronson’s Jean-Paul Sartre: Philosophy in the World (1980), which mentions some changes in Sartre’s thought and orientation following the revolutionary upsurge of May 1968 in France (p. 317-9). Sartre’s provocative turn expressed here retains all of its relevance 40 years on.
“But as he absorbed the experience of May, he decided that the intellectual should first ‘suppress himself as intellectual’ in order then to put his skills ‘directly at the service of the masses’. […] This new posture was most sharply and provocatively defined in his interview with John Gerassi in 1971.
Sartre here gave the simplest answer yet to his constant question: what should the intellectual do? – he should act. To be a radical intellectual was above all to be committed to put oneself bodily in opposition to the system. In conversation with Gerassi he reviewed his own political history going back to the…
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