From time to time I hear voices. They are often loudest when I begin to zone in on the things I am trying to accomplish in life.
You’ve heard these voices before I’m sure. The voices that challenge your authority to think for yourself. The voices that cause you to question your unique abilities, or self worth.
Dealing with these voices has been a constant theme in many of the books and documentary films I’ve been watching lately.
In our discussion group we’ve tackled these themes, and have been aided by a great introductory look at the subject of philosophy via – Sopie’s World: a novel about the history of philosopy.
I am very interested in books, films, and anything that makes the often daunting subject of philosophy, and the individuals quest to be a better thinker, more accesable to everyday peeps.
Philosophy For The Streets
- The BBC has a great documentary on Jean Paul Sartre who is looked at as one of the leading thinkers of 20th century existentialism. Sartre: The Road to Freedom
- Astra Taylor’s 2009 documentary, Examined Life, aimed to do just that, bring philosophy relevant to life today.
- Alain Button has put together a nice 6 part documentary series that does a decent job of showcasing some of of the thinkers that have influenced history, and in so doing giving us a variety of examples of what it means to be a lover of wisdom, and an independent thinker. He builds the case that thinking logically about our lives, might help us to be more certain of ourselves, less conformist, and less by what others think about us.
I’ve listed all of the parts of this documentary series below. (Summary’s from original film website.)
Why do so many people go along with the crowd and fail to stand up for what they truly believe? Partly because they are too easily swayed by other people’s opinions and partly because they don’t know when to have confidence in their own.
British philosopher Alain De Botton discusses the personal implications of the ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus (341-270BCE) who was no epicurean glutton or wanton consumerist, but an advocate of “friends, freedom and thought” as the path to happiness.
Roman philosopher Lucious Annaeus Seneca (4BCE-65CE), the most famous and popular philosopher of his day, took the subject of anger seriously enough to dedicate a whole book to the subject. Seneca refused to see anger as an irrational outburst over which we have no control. Instead he saw it as a philosophical problem and amenable to treatment by philosophical argument.
Looks at the problem of self-esteem from the perspective of Michel de Montaigne (16th Century), the French philosopher who singled out three main reasons for feeling bad about oneself – sexual inadequecy, failure to live up to social norms, and intellectual inferiority – and then offered practical solutions for overcoming them.
Alain De Botton surveys the 19th Century German thinker Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) who believed that love was the most important thing in life because of its powerful impulse towards ‘the will-to-life’.
British philosopher Alain De Botton explores Friedrich Nietzsche’s (1844-1900) dictum that any worthwhile achievements in life come from the experience of overcoming hardship. For him, any existence that is too comfortable is worthless, as are the twin refugees of drink or religion.