A philosophy of despair
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The reason why I refuse to take existentialism as just another French fashion or...

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Philosophy Professor:
The reason why I refuse to take existentialism as just another French fashion or historical curiosity, is that I think it has something very important to offer us for the new century. I'm afraid we're losing the real virtues of living life passionately in the sense of taking responsibility for who you are, the ability to make something of yourself and feel good about life. Existentialism is often discussed as if it's, a philosophy of despair, but I think the truth is just the opposite. Sartre, once interviewed, said he never really felt a day of despair in his life. One thing that comes out from reading these guys is not a sense of anguish about life so much as, a real kind of exuberance, of feeling on top of it, it's like your life is yours to create. I've read the post modernists with some interest, even admiration, but when I read them I always have this awful nagging feeling that something absolutely essential is getting left out. The more you talk about a person as a social construction or as a confluence of forces or as fragmented of marginalised, what you do is you open up a whole new world of excuses. And when Sartre talks about responsibility, he's not talking about something abstract. He's not talking about the kind of self or soul that theologians would argue about. It's something very concrete, it's you and me talking, making decisions, doing things, and taking the consequences. It might be true that there are six billion people in this world, and counting, but nevertheless -what you do makes a difference. It makes a difference, first of all, in material terms, it makes a difference to other people, and it sets an example. In short, I think the message here is that we should never simply write ourselves off or see each other as a victim of various forces. It's always our decision who we are.

Transcript:
...because it has something important to offer for the new century. I'm afraid we're losing the real virtues of living life passionately... ...taking responsibility for who you are... ...making something of yourself and feeling good about life. Existentialism is often discussed as a philosophy of despair... ...but I think it's the opposite. Sartre once said he never really felt a day of despair in his life. One thing that comes from these guys... ...is not a sense of anguish so much as... ...an exuberance of feeling on top of it. It's like your life is yours to create. I've read the postmodernists with interest. But I always have this awful, nagging feeling... ...that something essential is left out. The more you talk about a person... ...as a social construction or a confluence of forces... ...or as fragmented or marginalized... ...then you open up a whole new world of excuses. When Sartre talks about responsibility, it's not abstract. It's not the kind of self or soul that theologians argue about. It's something concrete. It's us talking... ...making decisions and taking the consequences. There are six billion people in the world. Nevertheless, what you do makes a difference. It makes a difference in material terms and to other people. It sets an example. The message is, we should never write ourselves off... ...and see ourselves as victims of various forces. It's always our decision who we are. Creation comes out of imperfection. It seems to come out of a striving and a frustration. This is where, I think, language came from. I mean, it came from our desire to transcend our isolation... ...and have some connection with one another. It had to be easy when it was just simple survival. "Water." We came up with a sound for that. "Tiger behind you!" We made a sound for that. But when it gets really interesting, I think... ...is when we use that same system of symbols... ...to communicate all the abstract and intangible things we're experiencing. What is "frustration"? Or what is "anger" or "love"? When I say "love"... ...the sound comes out of my mouth and hits the other person's ear... ...travels through this byzantine conduit in their brain... ...through their memories of love or lack of love. They say they understand, but how do I know? Because words are inert. They're just symbols. They're dead. You know? And so much of our experience is intangible. So much of what we perceive cannot be expressed. It's unspeakable. And yet, you know, when we communicate with one another... ...and we feel we have connected and think we're understood... ...I think we have a feeling of almost spiritual communion. That feeling may be transient, but it's what we live for. To look at human development, look at the organism's evolution... ...and his environmental interaction. Evolution of the organism begins with evolution through the hominid... ...coming to the evolution of man. Neanderthal, Cro-Magnon. Now, what you're looking at here are three strings: Biological, anthropological, development of cultures... ...and cultural, which is human expression. What you've seen is the evolution of populations, not individuals. Then look at the time scale involved. Two billion years for life, six million for the hominid... ...100,000 years for mankind as we know it. You see how the evolutionary paradigm telescopes. Then when you get to agriculture, scientific and industrial revolution... ...you're looking at 10,000 years, 400 years, 150 years. You see a further telescoping of evolutionary time. As we go through the new evolution... ...it will telescope to the point where we see it within our lifetime. The new evolution stems from two types of information: Digital and analog. Digital is artificial intelligence. Analog results from molecular biology and cloning. You knit the two with neurobiology. Under the old paradigm, one would die, the other would dominate. Under the new paradigm, they exist as a supportive... ...non-competitive grouping, independent from the external. So evolution now becomes an individually centered process... ...emanating from the individual... ...not a passive process with the individual at the collective's whim. So you produce a neo-human... ...with a new individuality, a new consciousness. That's only the beginning of the cycle.

Clip duration: 363 seconds
Views: 223
Timestamp in movie: 00h 00m 00s
Uploaded: 12 December, 2020
Genres: animation, drama, fantasy
Summary: Waking Life is about a young man in a persistent lucid dream-like state. The film follows its protagonist as he initially observes and later participates in philosophical discussions that weave together issues like reality, free will, our relationships with others, and the meaning of life.


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Philosophy Professor - Robert C. Solomon