Watching Being in the World, a small film about some pretty big ideas, opened my eyes to the state of philosophy in the 21st century. It had everything from Plato to Creole cooking, Heidegger to juggling. Modern day philosophers weighed in on the age old question of the meaning of life as well as what makes us human. Artisans and masters in their fields of work shared what they do best and how it brings them alive.
There were more than a few sessions of brain aerobics as I attempted to follow the rational roads of philosophic ponderings laid out by such mental masters as Hubert Dreyfus, Charles Taylor, and Mark Wrathall. After relating the story of MIT’s 1960’s foray into artificial intelligence and Dr. Dreyfus’s admonition that a computer could never be intelligent, John Haugeland, a professor of philosophy at the University of Chicago, said something that resonated with sublime simplicity. What makes us unique, what sets us apart from any computer is that we give a damn. It’s ultimately our give-a-damnness that makes us human.
In the film Leah Chase, a New Orleans chef, shared her recipes, but also that the ingredients and directions on paper wouldn’t guarantee the same cooking results as hers. Manuel Molina only plays flamenco on a handmade guitar because that is where he touches another’s humanity. The colours of wood Hirosui Sakaguchi uses in his buildings speak to him as a lover speaks to their beloved. It is in our caring for what we do and for who we encounter that meaning can emerge in life.
The lesson is in allowing the master within ourselves to emerge whether we are washing a dish or conducting an orchestra. A meaningful life doesn’t depend on what happened in your childhood or even a minute ago. Meaning comes with the next breath, the next step, the next moment of wonder that arises within us. It’s in following inspiration, in allowing the best of us to witness the best in each other. To show up with every cell in our being for this show we call life.
And I think that’s worth a damn.
Being in The World Movie Trailer
Feature Image – Microsoft Office Clip Art Collection
Thumbnail and Image in Post are Screen Caps From The Video – Being In The World