There are few things in this world more irritating than beingntold by a salesman in a men’s store that a particular style ofndress is all the fashion. I am the sort who, lacking the necessaryndiscrimination and money to be sartorially resplendent, adopts ansuperior attitude toward those who seem always to knownwhether or not stripes are in for the season. The kind who,nwhile all around me discuss the latest outrage uncovered bynMike Wallace, takes pride in never having viewed 60 Minutes.nAnd when it comes to ideas, I maintain an even tougher line,nstubbornly refusing to read books by those about whomneveryone is talking. Much of this, I may as well confess, can bendismissed as a pose, a slightly comic effort to call attention tonwhat 1 should like people to think is a courageous independence.nNevertheless, there is something to be said for a critical attitudentoward fashion, particularly when one enters the sacredngroves of philosophy.nO, ‘ne might think that philosophy would be relatively immunento fashion, focusiag, one supposes, on eternal verities,nor at least on timeless wisdom. Yet modem philosophers havenbeen as subject to the imperatives of novelty as have thosenwho determine the length of the skirt and the depth of the decolletage.nIt is a rare thinker who has not had thoughts thatnwere, at different times, in and out of season. “I long agonrenounced the approbation of my contemporaries,”nSchopenhauer wrote in 1844. Twenty-five years earlier, whennhe published Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung he had beennunable to unseat Hegel, “that intellectual Caliban,” from Germany’snphilosophic throne. Later, however, when Hegel wasnno longer fashionable and Weltschmerz had become the marknof an up-to-date sensibility, the great pessimist’s ideas attractednserious attention.nBut perhaps it is not quite fair, or even accurate, to describenHegel as “fashionable.” He was, after all, a thinker of pereimialnrelevance and, during the first half of the 19th century, hisnphilosophy was more than a fashion—^it was an orthodoxy. Innmuch the same way, it would be misleading to characterizencontemporary analytic philosophy as a momentary enthusiasm;nit has served for some time now as Anglo-American academia’snphilosophic orthodoxy. Moreover, its high priest, LudwignWittgenstein, was a thinker of such power and originality thatnhe is unlikely to become what Merleau-Ponty once called anphilosophic “museum piece.”nFashionable philosophers are more likely to be those whonflash across the sky and then disappear from view. More the reflectorsnof their society than its creators, they are forever identifiednwith a particular historical moment. In our time, as AndynWarhol—^who is quite femiliar with temporary flashiness—nonce put it, everyone is famous for 10 minutes; thus, evennphilosophers, or those who imagine themselves to be philosophers,nhave sometimes become public celebrities, heroes tonall who prefer inventive and provocative fashion to basic blue.nChronicles of CulturenPHILOSOPHY AND FASHION •nC O iVl M I: N TnnnSince the end of World War II, Western society has witoessednthe rise and fall of a host of “public philosophers,” includingnJean-Paul Sartre, Herbert Marcuse, and Michel Foucault.nJ7 rom the German surrender to the 1960’s, Sartre was undoubtedlynthe most fashionable philosopher on both sides ofnthe Adantic. His major work, Being and Nothingness (1943),nis long and opaque, but even those who did not make theirnway through its labyrinthian pages sensed that it offered annihilistic conception of man and freedom that paralleled thenafter-Auschwitz mood of the postwar world. In the wake ofnthe nazi death camps. Western men experienced a deep sensenof guilt and worthlessness; they were thus easily persuaded bynSartre that life was absurd and that human relationships wereninvariably exploitative and inauthentic. “Hell,” Sartre wrote innNo Exit, “is other people!” Few were inclined to take issuenwith him. Existential angst and “bad faith” became so fashionablenthat those who did not exhibit a furrowed brow or whonwere unable to toss off cynical remarks about life’s emptinessnwere thought to be—indeed, thought themselves to be—npitiable philistines.nEveryone in those years was an existentialist, though fewncould provide a coherent account of what Sartre meant whennhe announced that existence was prior to essence. Even fewernwere aware that the sage of the Left Bank had borrowed freelynfl-om two philosophers of stature-. Husserl and Heidegger. Itnwas a matter of image and publicity. Who could ignore Sartre,nthe courteous “resistance fighter,” sitting alone in a Paris cafe,nconfi-onting the Void? His views on every conceivable questionnwere passionately discussed and his nihilistic novels and dramasnwere mandatory reading for anyone who wished to be auncourant.nBut the apostle of anguish was a Parisian after all, and anParisian is nothing if not feshion conscious. As despair and resignationnthreatened to become old hat, Sartre discoveredn