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No Excuses: Existentialism and the Meaning of Life | [The Great Courses]

No Excuses: Existentialism and the Meaning of Life

What is life? What is my place in it? What choices do these questions obligate me to make? More than a half-century after it burst upon the intellectual scene - with roots that extend to the mid-19th century - Existentialism's quest to answer these most fundamental questions of individual responsibility, morality, and personal freedom, life has continued to exert a profound attraction.
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Publisher's Summary

What is life? What is my place in it? What choices do these questions obligate me to make? More than a half-century after it burst upon the intellectual scene - with roots that extend to the mid-19th century - Existentialism's quest to answer these most fundamental questions of individual responsibility, morality, and personal freedom has continued to exert a profound attraction.

Now, in a series of 24 probing and thoughtful lectures, you can enrich your own understanding of this unique philosophical wave, the visionary thinkers it brought together to ponder and debate these questions, and the prominent role it still plays in contemporary thought.

"Existentialism is, in my view, the most exciting and important philosophical movement of the past century and a half," says Professor Solomon. "Fifty years after the French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre gave it its identity and 150 years after the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard gave it its initial impetus, it continues to win new enthusiasts and, in keeping with its still exciting and revolutionary message, vehement critics." Plumbing both sides of the debate, these lectures examine a wide range of Existentialist thought. You'll be exposed to the religious approach of Kierkegaard; the bold fiction of Camus; the warrior rhetoric and often-shocking claims about religion and morality posed by Nietzsche; the radical and uncompromising notion of freedom championed by Sartre; and the searching analysis of human historicity and finitude offered by Martin Heidegger. And you'll encounter the reluctance - often angrily expressed - of many of Existentialism's major figures to be thought of as part of any philosophical movement or even as intellectual allies!

Disclaimer: Please note that this recording may include references to supplemental texts or print references that are not essential to the program and not supplied with your purchase.

©2000 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2000 The Great Courses

What Members Say

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  •  
    Madeleine London, United Kingdom 04-13-14
    Madeleine London, United Kingdom 04-13-14 Member Since 2015

    Audiobook addict.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Wonderful Survey of the Evolution of a Philosophy"

    This was an incredibly compelling audio course. I appreciated Prof. Solomon's inclusion not only of philosophical thinkers but also writers like Camus, Hesse, Dostoyevsky and Kafka. Their inclusion helps greatly to bring the elements of the philosophy out of dry generalities and into the real of human experience.

    I highly recommend this course for anyone interested in existentialism, but also for a richer look at the works of writers mentioned above.

    8 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Winter Wonder Oakland, CA USA 08-07-13
    Winter Wonder Oakland, CA USA 08-07-13 Member Since 2013
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    "Loved it!"

    A nuanced and careful look at some pretty fiery characters. The professor has a nice cadence and clear speech (rare in philo profs!). I wanted more when he finished!!

    8 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Diego 02-08-15
    Diego 02-08-15 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Made want to read Camus!"

    But he lost me on Heidegger...
    Seriously, great course! The professor conveys passion for the subject and yet the critique is balanced and understandable.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kim Drnec Washington DC 08-01-14
    Kim Drnec Washington DC 08-01-14 Member Since 2013
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    "Brilliant Life changing"
    Where does No Excuses: Existentialism and the Meaning of Life rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    For non-fiction it is one of the best I've listened to. Clear, interesting.


    What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

    It explains a complicated subject surrounded by much colloquial mystery simply. It also gives philosophical reasons why we really don't have excuses and why doing what we need to do just is...so get on with it!


    What does Professor Robert C. Solomon bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Intonation and some personal comments that give thoughtful support


    What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

    A clear explanation of what this philosophy actual is and how it really applies to normal modern life


    Any additional comments?

    It changed my life and when I start over thinking things, wondering why something is, I listen to parts of it and feel much better about what choices I have and that I just need to get on with it. Being human isn't as complicated as we make out sometimes!

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    eric Croydon, Pa, United States 10-12-14
    eric Croydon, Pa, United States 10-12-14 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "One of the best of the courses series"

    Seems to me some subjects are better in audible form; philosophy certainly seems to be a subject that transfers well

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gary Las Cruces, NM, United States 07-24-15
    Gary Las Cruces, NM, United States 07-24-15 Member Since 2015

    Letting the rest of the world go by

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    "Good for even a non-existentialist"

    I don't like existentialism philosophy, but I liked this lecture series. It allowed me to understand other philosophers through the lens of Existentialism, and I got to understand Kant, Schopenhauer, and learn learn more about Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, and Heidegger. I liked the hour and a half he devoted to Heidegger so much, I ended up buying "Being and Time" from Amazon.

    I would strongly recommend watching the BBC production of the play "Huis Clos" ("In Camera", or also called "No Exit") freely available on YouTube before or after listening to this lecture. I did and am glad for the understanding it brought. The heart of this lecture series is really Jean-Paul Sartre and a lot of what he thinks is within this highly watchable and freely available play.

    Even if you think Existentialism is passe (a word the lecturer uses), and you don't particularly like Existentialism this lecture has more than enough to keep you entertained. As with almost all of these Great Course series, I don't know of anything else where I get as much value for my one credit, and because of this series I'm violating one of my rules and plan on reading a difficult book because this series has piqued my interest that much in Heidegger.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tyler Red Deer, AB, Canada 07-02-15
    Tyler Red Deer, AB, Canada 07-02-15 Member Since 2015

    I've been a member here for a few years now. Nothing will ever replace printed books for me, but I do enjoy lots of things Audible has!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Perfect for intermediate philosophy!"

    So the thing is, this is a great course. You don't need to be a philosophy major to get anything out of this, but I would recommend it for people who at least know what existentialism is.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    ben chelsea, Australia 04-15-15
    ben chelsea, Australia 04-15-15 Member Since 2012
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    "must listen if interested in philosophy"

    fantastic listen, time well invested as a story and education in the ways and means of existentialism

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Matt 07-22-15
    Matt 07-22-15 Member Since 2013
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    "a solid introduction effort in existentialism"

    I really enjoyed these lectures, the bar is just high.

    The organization of these lectures is a bit poor. It is based more on historical observation than working through the philosophy and actual passages.

    Not to sound pompous, but this is hardly the intellectual rigor that is typically required of a discussion on philosophy. Readers will benefit from its approachability.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    RyanM 06-24-15
    RyanM 06-24-15
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    "Imagine..."

    Imagine, some type of, virus, attacked the transcript, of this, audiobook, and inserted commas unnecessarily every few words… this is how, this narrator, reads....

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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