Our exhausted (first) world: a plea for 21st-century existential philosophy

Consider: a lecture hall of undergraduates, bored and fidgety (and techne-deprived, since I’ve banned computers and devices in class) in distinctive too-cool-for-school Philosophy 101 style.—Ah, but
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Consider: a lecture hall of undergraduates, bored and fidgety (and techne-deprived, since I’ve banned computers and devices in class) in distinctive too-cool-for-school Philosophy 101 style.—Ah, but today will be different: the current offering is not Aristotle on causation, or Cartesian dualism, or Kant’s transcendental unity of apperception—no. Today the reading is from Kierkegaard’s Concluding Unscientific Postscript, and surely these students are eager to talk about the significance (or lack thereof) of our own fragile, brief lives. With some anticipatory relish, I give them Kierkegaard’s ontology in broad strokes. “Kierkegaard,” I announce, “is concerned about one thing: meaningfulness, the meaning of life, your life, materially realized.” Now for the question: what is it that a human being might initially move towards in an effort to realize her or his existential birthright of selfhood? Why, pleasure, yes? Yes? Strangely, no one bites. I try again:. . .

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News source: OUPblog » Philosophy

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