The profound teachings of the great philosophers lie at the center of this playlist How to Live: Philosophy. Each segment of the film explores the unique perspectives of legendary thinkers in the Western tradition, including those expounded by Plato, Aristotle and Nietzsche. The insights provided by these towering figures remain relevant to our lives even today, and continue to challenge and inform our views on love, greed, conflict, spirituality and the art of being human.
Take the example set forth by Jean-Paul Sartre, one of the most influential and prolific sermonizers of the existentialist movement. Through his novels and essays, Sartre articulated a world view that challenged the status quo and our widely accepted perceptions of reality. He recognized the absurdity in patterns and practices most others held as normal and logic-based. With a great disdain for capitalism and the sheepish obedience it inspired, Sartre urged each human being to open their eyes to the possibilities of freedom by unleashing themselves from the shackles of greed.
Three hundred years prior to the emergence of Jean-Paul Sartre, Francois de La Rochefoucauld adopted a decidedly less enthusiastic view on the possibilities of human kindness and possibility. “If one were to judge of love according to the greatest part of the effects it produces,” La Rochefoucauld wrote, “it might very justly pass for hatred rather than kindness.” La Rochefoucauld’s life was largely defined by misfortunes in the form of exile, poverty, and crippling romantic hardship. The sum total of these experiences found voice through his masterful employment of aphorisms, a series of brief, succinct sentences designed to illustrate complex ideas with minimal text and maximum clarity. In its purest form, this approach can still be found today, particularly on social media platforms like Twitter.
In a matter of minutes, each segment of How to Live: Philosophy clearly and cleverly encapsulates the ideologies of these and many other great philosophers, including Ludwig Wittgenstein, Heidegger, Epicurus, the Stoics and Augustine. Their perspectives run the gamut of human emotion and experience, and they speak to truths we all continue to grapple with in our everyday existence. But perhaps most importantly, the lessons they imparted provide us with a quantity which is sorely lacking in our modern society: enlightenment.