Hell is other people

Julian Baggini on modern manners and philosophy:
You should not accept or continue a phone call if a shop assistant is serving you.

If Jean-Paul Sartre were alive, which he isn't, and he gave advice, which he didn't, he may well have shed light on the correct use of a mobile phone using his distinction between thinking of a person authentically as a being-for-itself (ĂȘtre-pour-soi) with will and consciousness, or inauthentically as being-in-itself (ĂȘtre-en-soi), a mere thing. So when we ignore the presence of someone like a shop assistant, treating them as absent and the absent caller as present, we are doing no less than denying their humanity.

Very true. Baggini also points out how rude it is to send text messages to someone else in the middle of a conversation.

Come to think of it, I like the idea of Sartre as advice columnist:

Sartre's Day

Dear Sartre,

I know I'm a grown woman and should know better, but I mope endlessly about my boyfriend who left me. Some days I just want to burst into tears; other days I stare forlornly at my empty bed. What should I do?

Sad Sack in Singapore


When we speak of forlornness, a term Heidegger was fond of, we mean only that God does not exist and that we have to face all the consequences of this.

Existentially yours,


Dear JP,

I'm happily married - I think. I say "I think" because sometimes I have these thoughts about my ex-girlfriend. We were so wrong together, but I miss her and recently we've even started exchanging e-mails. Is it so bad to want to recapture the past?

Thinking Back in Tampa Bay


How can I, who have not the strength to hold to my own past, hope to save the past of someone else?... I have only my body: a man entirely alone, with his lonely body, cannot indulge in memories; they pass through him.



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