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What philosophers had to say about the desire to party

20200817 Partying stock photo
As social animals, humans are hardwired to need the interaction provided by parties. Image: IStock/Naynejung

Surprising as it may seem, many philosophers have wondered about the phenomenon of partying and attempted to explain why humankind is so eager to indulge in collective merrymaking marked by excess and occasionally-impulsive conduct. At a time when social gatherings are viewed as irresponsible with regard to the pandemic, it is worth remembering that they are an essential aspect of human behavior, which has been well-documented in literature and social sciences. Even philosophers have sought to explain why they are so deeply needed. Here is a roundup of what they had to say.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau: A collective escape from constraints that allows you to forget yourself

The French thinker, who argued that human beings were naturally good but corrupted by society, saw partying as a return to an original innocence fueled by dancing and alcohol, which offered an escape from the constraints and interests that dominate human behavior to the point where revelers even forget themselves. In the light of this view, the 18th century philosopher would have a hard time understanding people who take selfies at parties.

Mikhail Bakhtin: Partying as a momentary subversion of social order

The Russian philosopher and Rabelais scholar was particularly interested in the popular phenomenon of carnivals and their disruption and suspension of the social order. For Bakhtin, the goal of partying was to temporarily do away with hierarchy and convention.

Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre: Existentialist partying

France’s most famous philosophical couple was keen on partying, an activity that they believed to be very much in tune with existentialist thought, which, in a nutshell, sets aside any notion of self that is not defined by action. For Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre, philosophy also entailed a commitment to live life to the full. Partying, which they saw as a powerful source of energy that liberated the imagination and stimulated creativity, was an important aspect of that.

Michel Foucault: Partying is the jubilant release of the collective unconscious

For the French philosopher Michel Foucault, partying provides an opportunity for the spontaneous manifestation of the collective unconscious that governs ordinary social interaction. With their authorization of excesses and transgressions (both sexual and social), parties shed light on hidden aspects of morality and society. CC


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