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Trading cards of some dangerous minds, deep thinkers & radical intellectuals

For those with an interest in big ideas, these trading cards from should fire up your neurotransmitters.

Between 2000-2001, a set of twelve trading cards was released monthly via David Gauntlett’s website This original set of cards featured theorists (and their concepts) from the world of social and cultural theory, gender and identity, and media studies. The first out of the pack was British social theorist Anthony Giddens who devised the theory of structuration and wrote the book on The Third Way. This was followed by theorist Judith Butler whose book Gender Trouble argued that “biological” sexes were just as much as a social construct as gender. Then came the great controversial French thinker Michel Foucault with his ideas about sexuality, gender and power structures. The deck included some interesting choices like artists Tracey Emin, Gilbert & George and concepts like Postmodernity and Psychoanalysis.

This official set of twelve trading cards was thought by some to lack a few key players and its release inspired various academics, students and alike to produce their own cards. These additions included Karl Marx, Carl Jung, Simone de Beauvoir, Edward Said, Germaine Greer, Walter Benjamin and Marcel Duchamp.

Described as “Creative knowledge you can put your pocket™” these cards can be used to play a game of trumps—in which players can match strengths, weaknesses and special skills. For example, Foucault’s special skill of happily rejecting old models and creating new ones, might not quite beat Duchamp’s ability to confuse the hell out of everyone.

The full set is below—but if you want to own a set of these super brainy trading cards (and who wouldn’t?) then deal yourself in by clicking here.
#1 Anthony Giddens—British social theorist.
#2 Judith Butler—American philosopher and gender theorist.
#3 Michel Foucault—French philosopher, theorist, philologist and literary critic.
More thinkers and some big ideas, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Intellectual Equals: Jean-Paul Sartre & Simone de Beauvoir, vintage 1967 interview

It is difficult to think of Jean-Paul Sartre without thinking of Simone de Beauvoir. They were lovers, comrades, friends whose lives were intrinsically entwined. Each morning they would work separately, then at four o’clock in the afternoon, they would meet and dine at La Palette, continuing their conversation, where it had left off. Then they would return to Sartre’s apartment, where they would work together until evening.

Sartre had moved to a tenth-floor, studio apartment on 222 Boulevardd Raspail in 1962, after the right-wing paramilitary group OAS had twice bombed his previous home on Rue Bonaparte.

It was a modern studio in one of the top floors of a modern building: one big wall full of books, a great leather armchair and a long worktable, thick and old—the kind of table used for meals in a convent—laden with manuscripts. From the table, one could see far into the distance, toward the Eiffel Tower. This new abode was Sartre’s farewell to Saint-Germain-des-Pres, to the postwar period, to the existential explosion—his return to Montparnasse, where, from then on, all those close to him would meet…

In the early 1960s, Sartre’s fame was at its height. He had been famously awarded and then rejected the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1964. He was seen internationally as man of intellect, politics and scandal, yet at the same time, Sartre’s strict adherence to his singular brand of politics and philosophy often made him seem outdated to younger radicals and thinkers.

Even though at the time France was excited over Lévi-Strauss, Barthes, Lacan, Althusser, and Foucault, Sartre refused to confront their fertile methods of investigation in any way whatsoever, let alone with the open mind that would have been useful in such a confrontation.

In an interview with L’Arc, Sartre restated his central beliefs:

“Philosophy represents totalized man’s struggle to recapture the meaning of totalization. No science can replace it, for each science applies itself to a well-delineated aspect of man… Philosophy is the investigation of praxis, and as such an investigation of man… the important thing is not what one does with man, but what he does with what one has done with him. What one has done with man, these are the structures, the signifiers, that the social sciences study. That which he does is history itself… Philosophy is the hinge.”

To the likes of Foucault, Sartre’s emphasis on:

...consciousness, subjectivity, freedom, responsibility and the self, his commitment to Marxist categories and dialectical thinking… his quasi Enlightenment humanism, Sartre seemed to personify everything that structuralists and poststructuralists like Foucault opposed. In effect, the enfant terrible of mid century France had become the “traditionalist” of the following generation.

Sartre was probably aware of this, and his rejection of the Nobel Prize was in part over a fear of being seen as part of the French establishment. This at a time when Sartre was dedicating himself to a biography of Gustave Flaubert, which Sartre (erroneously) believed would eclipse all of his previous work. This only convinced Michel Foucault that Sartre was a man of the 19th century.

Whilst always seeming to be hidden by the shadow of Sartre, it was in fact Simone de Beauvoir who was becoming far more relevant and radical in the 1960s, as her 1949 epoch-changing book The Second Sex was inspiring a generation of feminist writers and thinkers. There is a slight irony that this interview with Sartre and de Beauvoir, recorded for the French television series Dossiers in 1967, should focus so much attention to Sartre, when it was de Beauvoir’s ideas and writings that were more influential at the time. The film does capture the couple’s unique dynamic and discusses Sartre’s rejection of the Nobel Prize, his biography on Flaubert; while de Beauvoir discusses The Second Sex.  In French with subtitles.

Previously on Dangerous Minds
Simone de Beauvoir: Why I am a Feminist
Albert Camus vs. Jean-Paul Sartre

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Simone de Beauvoir: ‘Why I am a Feminist’
05:53 pm


Simone de Beauvoir

An exceptional interview with Simone de Beauvoir, from the French TV program Questionnaire, in which the great writer discussed her views on Feminism with Jean-Louis Servan-Schreiber.

Beginning with a quote from her book The Second Sex, de Beauvoir explained the meaning of her oft-quoted line, “One is not born a woman, one becomes one,”

“...being a woman is not a natural fact. It’s the result of a certain history. There is no biological or psychological destiny that defines a woman as such. She’s a product of a history of civilization, first of all, which has resulted in her current status, and secondly for each individual woman, of her personal history, in particular, that of her childhood. This determines her as a woman, creates in her something which is not at all innate, or an essence, something which has been called the ‘eternal feminine,’ or femininity. The more we study the psychology of children, the deeper we delve, the more evident it becomes that baby girls are manufactured to become women.”

Recorded in 1975, this interview is in French with English subtitles.


Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Jean-Paul Sartre documentary: ‘The Road To Freedom’

Human, All Too Human was a BBC television documentary that originally aired in 1999. Taking its title from Nietzsche’s book of aphorisms Human, All Too Human: A Book for Free Spirits, the three-part series covers the lives and work of Friedrich Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger and Jean-Paul Sartre. Although biographies, the overall theme was an exploration of the philosophy of Existentialism, as developed by these radical European thinkers.

The final episode, The Road to Freedom, focused on Sartre, whose name, of course, is synonymous with Existentialism. Sartre thought that it was up to each of us to create meaning and purpose in our lives in a Godless universe and the film—one of the only (if not the only) film about Sartre made in English—includes interviews with his life partner, feminist novelist and philosopher, Simone de Beauvoir.

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
How to pronounce “Sartre”

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Excellent documentary on Jean-Paul Sartre: ‘Human, All Too Human’ from 1999

This documentary on Jean-Paul Sartre comes from the BBC documentary series Human, All Too Human,  which examined the development of Existentialism through the lives and work of three philosophers: Friedrich Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger, and Jean-Paul Sartre.

Beginning with Sartre’s notion that he only ever felt “truly free” under the Nazi occupation of France, the film examines Sartre’s development as a writer and thinker, exploring the difficulties he faced and his often contrary and changing beliefs - what his biographer Ronald Hayman described in 1986, as Sartre’s “thinking against himself by what Marxists call contradictions in the situation.”

Hayman concluded in Writing Against: A Biography of Sartre:

“His influence is still enormous, but it cannot be analyzed because it cannot be isolated. Particles of Sartre are in the blood that flows through our brains; his ideas, his categories, his formulations, his style of thinking are still affecting us. Ripples are still spreading from pebbles he threw into the water…

“...A major part of Sartre’s achievement rests on his courage and obstinacy in asserting that we are what we make of ourselves.”



Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment