Who is Gale PRAWDA?
by © Isabelle RIVAS, 1998
From her native New York, Gale traveled to Europe for the first time in 1968, visiting Paris the summer when the Sorbonne was still under siege from "May ’68", unknowing at that time, that she would, some years later, find herself gracing the hallways of this mystical university, where she culminated her philosophical studies, under the direction of the imminent Paul Ricoeur, in a Doctorate with Honors in 1980. All of this in spite of the language barrier on her arrival. As she prepared her ‘license’ and ‘maîtrise’, she learned the basics of French, native to the French of Françoise Dastur and Descartes. This original European visit led to a university stay which evolved into 27 years of immersion in French cultural and family life.
Despite having finished her philosophical studies successfully, she turned away from her passion because "it is a domain dealing with the questions concerning human existence yet so incredibly inaccessible to those very people it spoke about". The academic boundaries were too frustrating; coincidentally her parallel work as manager of the American University bookstore led to the creation of her own import/export Anglo-American book business supplying the French market. This experience led to a new period in her life, where she was able to combine her philosophical background with her business knowledge, teaching at various International Business Schools throughout Paris and lecturing on such subjects as "Leadership", "Cultural Awareness", "the Future of the Corporate World", "Creativity in the Corporate Environment", and "Business Ethics". More recently, as president of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Paris, she has led such workshops as "Identity and Difference", "Violence", "Creativity", and most recently "Diversity and Tolerance".
Today, with the advent of the Café Philo movement started in 1992 by Marc Sautet, 50 years after Jean Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir and Albert Camus known originally as café philosophers ‘malgrè eux’, Gale became aware of it and got involved in 1996. With the enthusiastic support of M. Sautet, Gale successfully launched the first English Café des Philosophes in April’97 at the now infamous 40’s Philo hangout, Le Café de Flore in the intellectual and literary quarter of St. Germain des Prés. "To me, philosophy could almost be considered a ‘miracle cure-all’ as it teaches people to think, to explore unknown horizons, and to understand better." The success of this first English Café Philo has been so tremendous that Gale has decided to expand the Café Philo to the right bank with the arrival of the New Year, in the gentrified and newly renovated quarter of Belleville-Parmentier- République at the recently opened Mecano Bar, rue Oberkampf.
The sudden success of the Philosophy Café responds to a need that must be filled particularly in the English speaking community but also for Anglophones, making English, the language vehicule allowing for multicultural viewpoints to come together. "Today, the global market needs philosophy and philosophy needs people; the Socratic method can help us raise the fundamental questions necessary to lead us into the 21st century."
Gale Prawda, Ph.D.: