Waking Life [2001]

Philosophy Professor:
The reason why I refuse to take existentialism as just another French fashion or historical curiosity is that I think it has something very important to offer us... I'm afraid were losing the real virtues of living life passionately in the sense of taking responsibility for who you are the ability to make something of yourself and feel good about life. Existentialism is often discussed as if it were a philosophy of despair, but I think the truth is just the opposite. Sartre, once interviewed, said he never felt once minute of despair in his life. One thing that comes out from reading these guys is not a sense of anguish about life so much as a real kind of exuberance, of feeling on top of it, its like your life is yours to create. Ive read the post modernists with some interest, even admiration, but when I read them I always have this awful nagging feeling that something absolutely essential is getting left out. The more you talk about a person as a social construction or as a confluence of forces or as being fragmented of marginalised, what you do is you open up a whole new world of excuses. And when sartre talks about responsibilty, he's not talking about something abstract. He's not taling about the kind of self or souls that theologians would talk about. Hes talking about you and me talking, making descisions, doing things, and taking the consequences. It might be true that there are six million people in this world, and counting, but nevertheless -what you do makes a difference. It makes a difference, first of all, in material terms, to other people, and it sets an example. In short, I think the message here is that we shouuld never write ourselves off or see eachother as a victim of various forces. It's always our descision who we are.

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