Thursday, March 28, 2013

Hands-on philosophy that's anything but dry

Being in the World
by Tao Ruspoli and Hubert Dreyfus

While working in the adult nonfiction DVD collection one day last week, I happened upon a documentary titled Being in the World and thought "Hmm . . . pretty broad topic; I wonder what it's really about."

Turns out it's about philosophy, specifically that of 20th-century German philosopher Martin Heidegger. The thrust of Heidegger's argument is that philosophers have had it all wrong from Plato on down. Heidegger argues that the traditional distinctions of Real v. Ideal, subject v. object, mind v. body, etc. miss the point. Any philosophy that overlooks or denies the fundamentally physical nature of human existence and understanding is fatally flawed. Dry-sounding stuff, I know.

But it's not. Professor Hubert Dreyfus is the genial host of Being in the World, and he explains that we "know" reality as much with our bodies as with our minds. Visualize an Olympic gymnast doing a balance beam routine and you're on the right track. Human beings are more than disembodied brains or unfeeling machines. To make its case, the film juxtaposes surprisingly engaging contemporary philosophers and amazing real world exemplars of authentic existence. Musicians, a Creole chef, a Japanese carpentereven a jugglerall perform and discuss their crafts.

If Being in the World doesn't leave you itching to get your hands dirty doing whatever it is that you do best and love most, nothing will. Watch it and see.

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Review by Don Beistle

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