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!
PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.
©2000 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2000 The Great Courses
l'enfer c'est les autres
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.
For non-fiction it is one of the best I've listened to. Clear, interesting.
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!
Intonation and some personal comments that give thoughtful support
A clear explanation of what this philosophy actual is and how it really applies to normal modern life
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!
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!!
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.
Seems to me some subjects are better in audible form; philosophy certainly seems to be a subject that transfers well
Estate planning lawyer and mom to two boys. My older son liked audiobooks as an infant, and I've listened to a lot since then.
I didn't expect to like this as much as I did! This taught me so much about modern philosophy that I had forgotten, or never known. It inspired me to read The Stranger, and now I am looking for other books by the philosophers discussed.
Well, there weren't characters, but I thought Prof. Solomon was a wonderful lecturer. He was one of the best great courses professors I have listened to.
This was one of my favorite great courses. Highly recommended even if you don't think you are interested in the subject.
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.
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!
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.
"So good I listened to it twice."
A very engaging speaker with a gentle but lyrical style. Comprehensive and thought provoking but designed to be accessible.
"Excellent - informative and interesting."
I recommend this as an accessible introduction to existentialism. The lectures are a good length and Prof. Solomon explains the subject with clarity, charisma and contemporary relevance . I feel confident now in engaging in deeper study.
Highley recommended. This is a subject I'm interested in. However, sometimes even the most interesting topic can presented poorly, but the presentation and the speaker was really top class. Money well spent.
I loved this course.
It felt like I had actually read the source data, so lucid were the descriptions.
"Not a bad precis, but problematic in places"
Yes - it is informative and thought-provoking on the whole.
His delivery is a bit dry at times.
It is a bit superficial in places in terms of his understanding of some existentialist authors. The final lecture is particularly problematic insofar as he reduces existentialism to the ideologies of American exceptionalism and a particularly American form of individualism. His version of "postmodernism" (the term itself is already a major simplification) in the final lecture is both defensive and desperately simplistic.
"Enjoyable and interesting"
I learned much about an area of philosophy and its critics, than I previously knew. That's why I purchased this audio lecture and it did what it said on the can.
Insightful and well-balanced with a lecturer who clearer had X strong interest in the subject.
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