Friday, April 24, 2009

Sartre's existentialism - Entitled Opinions

A good podcast that I should have written about much more is Entitled Opinions. (feed) Italian literature professor Robert Harrison at Stanford spares no subject, nor opinion. With guests of a wide variety he discusses literature, culture, politics and philosophy.

In the latest issue he takes on the existentialism of Sartre. True to the nature of the show, he comes in with a long monologue in which he scorns modern society for its flaws and declares it needs a good dose of existentialism. A good moment to kick off with guest Lanier Anderson about Sartre.

It is a good idea to come prepared. There are several more podcasts about Sartre and more broadly about existentialism (see below), because Harrison and Anderson do not take too much time for explaining and come straight to the heart of the matter. On a common sense level, what Sartre teaches and to which Anderson and Harrison agree, is that man is fundamentally free, doomed to be free. And therefore, whatever happens to him, he cannot ascribe to circumstance, fate or historic coercion, man has abided by the train of events. Death could ultimately have been chosen, had he not want to comply. Thus, all that we are and all that happens to us, we have chosen. It seems exaggerated, for not all choices are of similar consequence, but certainly there is validity and value to the insight that we are never truly forced. And that is the strength of this podcast: a radical call for self responsibility.

More Entitled Opinions:
Five Free Favorites of Jesse Willis.

More Sartre:
Philosophy Bites.

More Existentialism:
Hubert Dreyfus.

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