The Self under Siege

We have a nice lecture today. This one is another course from The Teaching Company series; however it can be viewed from YouTube, since I tried to find it on The Teaching company site, but nothing doing. This course is called “The Self under Siege” taught by the late Rick Roderick.

Rick Roddick

The late Rick Roddick

The lecture I want to talk about today is lecture 2 “Heidegger And The Rejection Of Humanism”. You know of Heidegger right? I mean Martin Heidegger, the influential German philosopher whose studies into Phenomenology led to the growth of the philosophy movement called Existentialism, which is the study of being and how we tackle our existence in the world.

Phenomenology is the study of consciousness, reflection and how we perceive things, although close to psychology its main aim is to reflect rather than be too scientific. This has led to many criticisms of this philosophical school, but without a doubt Phenomenology has opened up many areas into the subject of being. Jean Paul Sartre examined Heidegger ideas and produced his own theories on the subject of being, areas of psychology and AI. Hiedegger’s ideas led to the impressive Existential movement from the 1950’s.

Martin Heidegger

Martin Hiedegger

Jean Paul Sartre (the famous French philosophy) had read Heidegger’s famous and lengthy book “Being and Time” and was impressed by its subject content, which was no easy feat, Being and Time is around 600 pages, is full of abstract words in German that have double meanings and at times can be dry.

Going back to the lecture, its style is easy on the ear. Rick guides you quite easily through a difficult subject and tries very hard to get us to relate to Heidegger’s main theories. One of them is the problem that we are thrown into the world and must learn the rules in order to get on in the world and as soon as we are struggling to adapt we then realize not only do we suffer, but we die.

We will be thrown out of the world. YIKES!!

Rick does not pull any punches with this lecture. He is most critical of institutions that adhere to Heidegger’s terms of rulemaking. It is like we become lost in the world and we must do things that we do not like to do in order to continue to live.

Heidegger’s life choices were not so great either; did I forget to mention he was a member of the Nazi party? Oh hum, well not so easy to wipe that slate clean, still he was a genius if not a tainted one.

Rick makes folly of those who wish to live forever and states that death will come, but although we fear death, we should embrace it. As Rick mentions in this lecture, who wants to be a 90 year old running up a treadmill? What is the point of that? You see death gives our lives meaning, it makes us see that since our time can be short, our choices become critical. Still, even fearing death is important, not only because it gives life meaning, but it’s what makes us human. We are conscious that death will take us, but we must realize our being.

Heidegger moves onto some solutions on the problem of existence, he states that we need to become authentic in order to give our lives the meaning we cherish, but Rick becomes most critical of such a solution, which you will see if you view this lecture. I will not tell you why Rick is critical of this, so please view the lecture on YouTube. Some YouTube files actually have the whole course, so if you’re brave you can watch the other lectures Rick as produced, those being on Habermas, Sarte and the postmodern greats such as Derrida and Foucault.

One thing I have noticed about the lecture is Rick assumes you know a fair bit about some of the philosophic ideas, but again he will get you to relate to some of the issues and pulls no punches. Rick at times may stray from the subject, he will often become humorous and make jokes. Yet in a nutshell, Rick says it as it is.