Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Existentialism - Philosophy 7

A long time ago, one of the readers of this blog alerted me to a 2006 course on Berkeley in existentialism (Phil 7). Hubert Dreyfus speaks about Existentialism in Literature and Film, touches on Kierkegaard, Dostoevsky and Nietzsche. As many would, I was expecting Sartre and I was not so keen on getting Kierkegaard. Not that I knew much of Kierkegaard, but I had him pegged as a Romanticist sufferer with a heavy, heavy Christian inclination.

I took the introduction lecture and even though I recognized it as a good lecture, it didn't connect. This semester the course has returned (now called Philosophy 7), but that was not what triggered me to try again. It was BBC's In Our Time. A university course sometimes needs some preparation, some previous disclosure of the subject field, in order to make one feel comfortable with the somewhat detached position of listening in on the lectures through podcast. You could take it up really seriously and read along with the students, but who has time for that? Besides, you do not have to pass the exam. The question is whether, with some general knowledge, listening in is going to deliver some education and entertainment.

It does. Actually existentialism is really fit for that. It is much more about experience and much less dry theory and abstraction as philosophy tends to be. Still I needed some entry. After having heard In Our Time's issue about Kierkegaard, I had a sufficient grip on him (and less objection) and suddenly Philosophy 7 opened up for me.

Unlike the university courses, In Our Time hardly has any entry level and thus it served as a great preparation and I would recommend this to everybody. First take Kierkegaard in In Our Time and then proceed to Huber Dreyfus's course at Berkeley.

More Berkeley:
The Making of Europe,
Non Violence,
Berkeley Spring 2008 has kicked off,
US History - from Civil War to Present.

More philosophy:
Philosophy Bites,
The Popperian Pathway,
Introduction to Philosophy - cuny podcast.

More In Our Time:
The Fisher King,
Albert Camus,
Victorian Pessimism.

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