Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Albert Camus - The Partially Examined Life

The best ideas for new podcasts to try, usually come from readers of the blog (keep them coming!) and so it went this time as well: a reader recommended I tried the philosophy podcast The Partially Examined Life. This podcast has very long (up to two hours) episodes in which a panel of philosophy students discuss an important philosopher or work of philosophy. They try to abide by two important rules that should make the podcast accessible for you and me: not to assume the listener has any prior knowledge or understanding of the matter; no name-dropping. (feed)

With already 36 episodes in the feed, there is a huge amount of content to choose from and by now I have listened to about three full issues, but I decided to kick off with me early life favorite: Albert Camus. The panel discussed the essay bundle that is usually known as The Myth of Sisyphus or as An Absurd Reasoning in which Camus explains his ideas about life being absurd and giving his reasoning against suicide. This was especially interesting to me, as I was never able to read this work until the end and not for lack of trying. Camus' novels have always been extremely accessible to me, but his essays, also other than The Myth of Sisyphus have not.

The guys on the podcast confirm my difficulty with the text - also they dread the way Camus drags on without getting to the point. The podcast allowed me to get more of a grip on how he did get to the point. The point being: Life is absurd, do not accept it, but do not commit suicide, because that is letting absurdity get the better of you. It shows his logical steps, it shows the philosophers he was influenced by and eventually also where his weak points lie. You have to bare the length of the podcast and the lack of structure in the discussion, but still this is a great entry into philosophy.

More Albert Camus:
Entitled Opinions,
In Our Time.