If ever I’d had any doubts they’ve been utterly dispelled, as it’s become obvious that more people have noticed, and remarked on, the absence of my front tooth these past 2 months than its presence in the previous 40 years or so.
I’ve just booked a room in the community centre to run a Philosophy Evening Course this autumn, and was pondering Sartre’s idea that it is the nothing which defines the being. You could say the not-there is just as important as the is-there: the experience of the café is defined by the absence of the friend you were expecting to meet; life is defined by the nothingness before and after it; it is the hole that defines the polo mint.
Which leads me to the recent rediscovery of one of my favourite philosophy jokes, which never fails to have me guffawing loudly.
Jean Paul Sartre is sitting in a café, revising his latest draft of Being and Nothingness, when a waitress asks for his order. He says he’d like a coffee with no cream, to which she replies, “I am sorry, monsieur, we are all out of cream. Can I bring you a coffee with no milk?”