"Living Authentically in an Inauthentic Age" Why? Radio Episode with Guest Gordon Marina
2:12AM Sep 23, 2020
Jack Russell Weinstein
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Hi, I'm jack Russel Weinstein host of wide philosophical discussions about everyday life. On today's episode, we're asking Gordon Marino how to live authentically in an inauthentic age.
There are two main stereotypes about what philosophers are supposed to look like. The first is that if an ancient octogenarian in a toga standing before a crowd shouting about what is real, the second is a younger parade and turtleneck coffeehouse malcontent who complains that life is suffering. The old man in the toga is an optimist. A person who has faith in the power of reason and culture he inspires us to democracy and science in urges us to pursue virtue, at least a virtue suitable to our proper station in life. The chain smoking complainer, on the other hand, is a pessimist, who believes that everyone around him is a phony, he implores us to embrace our unwi, but he rejects the idea that anyone is destined to be one thing or another. The two do have things in common. They're both men of course and European. But more philosophically, they're both interested in self knowledge. They think that people deeply misunderstand what they think they know and are reluctant to change their minds or ways. They also each assert that it is individual's responsibility to look in the mirror, and to see him or herself for who they really are. Their most radical difference lies in their understanding of what it means for people to be free. To Togo, wearing Greek thinks that people are only free when they master self knowledge, emotion, bias, opinion, these things lead us astray. He argues, well, ignorance keeps us in slavery. The Bray clad Frenchmen, or Algerian or Derm, German or Dane, thinks that we're always free. And that is our endless array of choices that lead us to hide our true selves. We play roles he claims instead of committing to our actual desires, and we shirk responsibility leading to the greatest sins of all inauthenticity and bad faith. john paul Stark, the inspiration for the cafe stereotype was an existentialist. He argued that human existence precedes our essence. This means that unlike Socrates, the man in the toga, he did not believe in the divine plan or blueprint that guides human life. We are not made in God's image. ceart thought the beginning did not start with the word. There is only the brute fact of our physical existence. So we must choose rather than discover the meaning of our lives. To put it another way, for Socrates. We are characters and moral commitments for SART and the other existentialists, we are simply what we do. Like all stereotypes, my sketches here oversimplifications, Plato Socrates was not always consistent in the classical Greeks disagreed about many things. As for the existentialists, if they were indeed a single school of thought they were a diverse one. Some believed in God, some didn't, some were overtly political, others purely academic. Nevertheless, existentialism replaced the faith in life so universal meaning with a lamentation about our universal experience, the ever present awareness, we would someday die, that our perspective was inescapable and that we and only we were accountable for our actions. They made room for Freud in the subconscious for feminism and cultural oppression, and for alienating notions of otherness. Their advice was not romantic. Like the classical Greeks, it was harsh and dramatic, but profoundly relevant to today's world. And that's what our guest will argue On today's episode, that philosophy is a form of self help. Together, we will ask whether existentialism can mitigate depression anxiety, whether it can provide an antidote to perpetual social network posturing, and whether it can help craft meaning for our lives. The field too fast, too busy and too superficial. The fact of the matter is, is that we as a culture feel lost. The United States is among the highest standard of living in history and Americans are becoming more and more unhappy. We're angry people suspicious, jealous, escapist, and heavily medicated, and the most privileged of us are the least content. The upper middle class has almost everything they'll ever need, and yet they experience their lives as under siege. This experience would not be unfamiliar to start Kierkegaard or the other existentialists, we turn to them because they were here already. They were born in times of crises, war and estrangement that mirror our own. they witnessed a divided culture of entitlement to despair, analyze the political and spiritual consequences of fakery, and laid it bare for our examination. They diagnose the modern pathology and pointed out that quietly acquiescing to our own alienation is just another form of collaboration. They postulated remedies to, but we've either marginalized or forgotten them. It's time to take another look. It's time to crack open the novels, plays and treatises and revisit what they sought to teach us. We will find my guest and I both say The experience speaks to who we are now. Not like Socrates did, who we ought to be if we were different and better. existentialists are talking to us. It's about time we took another listen. And now our guest Gordon Marino is a professor of philosophy and curator of the hung Kierkegaard library at St. Olaf College in Minnesota. He is author and editor of several books, including the existential Survival Guide, how to live authentically in an inauthentic age, which was just released a couple of weeks ago. Gordon, welcome to why.
Oh, thanks, jack. I love your monologue. That's fantastic.
Thank you very much. I really great. I appreciate that. Hopefully, it will set the themes for our discussion, and we'll inspire people to respond to our audience. So we are pre recording. So we won't be taking any questions. But if you'd like to send your comments, tweet us to I tweet us at why radio show post a comment on facebook.com slash wire radio show or visit our live chat room at why Radio show.org So first of all, before before the formal stuff starts Gordon, the book just came out a couple weeks ago. Congratulations. Thanks so much. Are we your first interview since it came out?
Yeah, yeah, yes. Yes. I got the 24th April Yeah,
I I will do my best not to sour the experience. And, and just, it's wonderful to hold. It's wonderful to look at it's a it's a great book to read very accessible. I'm super excited for it. I hope you are as well.
Yeah. Then it's quite a trek.
I'm sure. And I want to talk about that because the book has so many memoir elements intertwined with the existential ism and there's some difficulties that you embrace in a very honest about and that leads me to actually my first question. My instinct when I got the book was that the existentialists were sort of a funny place to look for guidance. They were not a happy or a well adjusted bunch. kirkegaard was a depressive khemu was a Philander Heidecker may have been a Nazi. They seem ill disposed to be role models so so what inspired you to look at them for solutions to our modern dilemma?
Well, the first person I looked at was cured guard because I feel like the existentialist in particular care guard were really good at addressing what we're up against in ourselves. And I was up against a pretty powerful depression after a breakup of a marriage was a young young man. And so and I think that they're not so much fixated on happiness as on something else on authenticity on becoming an important kicker's case becoming a faithful human being. So I didn't look to them as role models for how to be happy or self fulfilled.
This runs counter to the spirit of the age, doesn't it this notion that happiness isn't the most important thing. Is it?
Very much so Jack. Yeah.
Is that Do you find it difficult to make that argument that look, we're focused on there, I mean, even Aristotle, right, 2000 years ago, sees happiness as the final goal, even though his definition of happiness is a bit different than ours? Is it? Is it hard to address a modern audience, starting with the presumption that focusing on happiness is is is the wrong target?
Yes, yeah. And for example, for kickoff, the, the the aim in life was become an earnest, serious individual, and my students who when I, when I talk to them about that they have a hard time even connecting with the term, you know, what it means the earnest are serious, and he thought that was much more important than happiness. So, yeah, it's a hard sell. Sometimes, there's not even the vocabulary there, sometimes to talk about it. So sometimes I'll say, discuss the issue, the issue of character, they resonate with a little bit more. But yeah, they tend to make a god term out of happiness. There's no doubt about that we do and self fulfillment and all these checklists about what to do when you're upset or how to be happier, those kinds of things. We all want this kind of obsession with a method expertise. Yeah. So it does run counter to our culture.
I would think that a university classroom would be amongst the hardest places to put this out. Because right, we all know it's important to be earnest, right? But the students, they aren't earnest anymore. They're achievement seekers. They're job seekers. It may be a little different because you're teaching at a smaller liberal arts school, but certainly at the University of North Dakota, it's very hard to find students who are committed to the ethos of being a student and, and who have that earnest expression of learning. They are going through the motions in order to do what they think is next.
So there's a real terror don't think i think there's a real terror of not being successful. There is and it just overrides everything, oftentimes and it's and that's there's some sense that it's to be unsuccessful in America is to be invisible to be a loser, so to speak, right. So yeah, there's a real terror that
does just changing the focus from happiness, necessitate changing the focus from success. I mean, you don't you actually don't mention success in that sense in the book that I recall. But that's a really powerful comment, that this notion that the students are afraid that they're not going to succeed. And then of course, their parents are afraid that they're not going to succeed, and you're a parent and our parent, we know that parents are also afraid of not succeeding as being parents. So this this pressure to succeed is, does that to have to be pushed aside?
Yeah, well, I try to get students to think a little bit about what kind of instead of what they want to do, or how they want to be successful, but what kind of people they want to be. And, for example, I have many advisees, and they never come up to me and ask, you know, never come in and talk about that issue. And so I try to push students to talk about what kind of human being Do you want to be, and to judge your success, according to that, because there's so many, whether or not you're successful in life is there's so many contingencies. And it's, it's, it's not as important as what kind of person you want to be.
And the existential struggle with assert calls at facticity. Right, this notion that we have all of these choices get, we're also bound by the reality that we face. And if we're African American, we have to deal with the social conditions of being African American, if for men or women or American or Iraqi, or what have you. How, how much to the students? And how much does your audience in general? How comfortable are they with the notion that we have this freedom of choice that the existentialist put forth, when so much of our political discourse is about the limiting options of race and gender and things like that?
Hmm. And also kind of reductionism and cycle as to the psychology clinical psychology? Yeah. So I'm not sure I'm not sure how comfortable they are with it. But I do know that they, there, there's a lot of them that are seeking another vocabulary to think about their internal life in and in that sense, he's Galileo's with the inner world, they're very attractive to them. Another way of, you know, these great introspect or so. But they get the idea of the connection between freedom and anxiety, which is something that the the existential springing up all the time. They certainly have their Sidney her quiner with anxiety. Yes, yes. With choice. Yeah.
And I've said on the show before, and I want to get back to this in a minute. But I want to ask you about something that you just said, I've said on the show several times that I think our students are clinically depressed, that our students are struggling with overwork, and being forced to look at the future and never be present in the now and I want to, I want to talk about that in a minute. Because, of course, the accentual have spent a lot of time talking about despair and anxiety and depression. But first you use this this phrase, the Galileo's of the of the inner world, and these these kings of introspection, what what do you mean by that?
Well, that they were able to look around themselves and find things about human nature that were of central importance. And, and today, I don't see many great interest vectors around. I mean, even the 70s, for example, we had the dial of death, Becker, and a bunch of other people like that. And Erik Erikson. And so this is a paucity of, of a language to think about your life in terms of and I do think students do crave that at least that's what I find I do. They're fascinated by kyriacos descriptors of despair and sickness and death, and, but they're looking for a vocabulary to think of another vocab word and think about their lives. And rather than adjusting their, their serotonin levels, whatever, when you talk about,
they're not being focused on introspection, the first people that popped in my mind were Oprah and Dr. Phil, right. These are, these are visions of what introspection looks like. Here's the problem. Let's name it. Let's solve it. Let's go on to the commercial. Do you think that that this is a fair model of how we think about self reflection? Now, do you think that? Or do you think that I'm being overly cynical?
I think that's the general model is they're looking for some method, and wherever there's a problem, you want to bring in an expert, for example, there's we've been into the, you know, there's been a lot of discussion about how to have conversations between people disagree with each other. So the calls are bringing in experts on on civil civil discourse. So they look to an expert class for everything and a method a lot of the time a checklist. And I think that's quite different in the spirit of Securicor.
I want to push you on this and then I want to ask how kirkegaard addresses but isn't one of the criticisms now that we're actually rejecting the notion of expertise, right, Donald Trump, the great criticism is he doesn't know what he's doing. His his minions from Rudy Giuliani to others seem less than skilled. And there is the sense in the country that Every opinion is equal that there's no such thing as knowledge. It's just a matter of what you think. And so I wonder if you could explain what you mean by relying on on expertise? Because I think you're talking about something different. But at the same time there is this, the sense in my mind that one of the great criticisms is that the notion of expertise is disappearing.
Yeah, I hear what you're saying about the Trump and company. But I still think, at least within the circles, I live in that wherever there's a problem is there's a turn to an expert have a workshop, you know, do a seminar, as though. So I think that's, that's still pretty prevalent. Ethics experts, all kinds of everything. So I think the expert class, I call them lifestyle engineers, I still think they hold a lot of sway.
So the sort of culture of consultants, right, we have this problem.
Yeah. Diversity, inclusiveness, that kind of thing. Let's bring in an expert, haven't taught us how to teach that and how to talk to one another. Yeah. And I think that's also part of therapeutic culture that I talked about in the book quite a bit. Everything's a chromotherapy, which comes from my mentor, Philip roof.
Right. So so so we we have that instance in in Starbucks a couple weeks ago, where there was the African American men who were arrested for just waiting for friends and Starbucks solution was to the closest shops for half a day and do a industry wide workshop, right, that that's supposed to solve the problem. So So what does someone like kirkegaard have to say about that? Is Is that is that going down the wrong path? Is it too artificial? What? What is Kierkegaard say about this notion of bringing someone in to solve the problem to tell us how to think?
Well, I think on on all the central matters, kirker believe that we basically know what the right thing to do is that we're have that knowledge within us that there's a certain kind of knowledge about life that's universally distributed, and that we tend towards self deception, that self deception is the problem. It's not that we need more knowledge to be, say, upstanding, ethical people, we need to come into a new relationship to what we know, need to act on it to have a more passive relationship to our ethical ideals. So I think he would take issue with this idea of, well, if you have a problem at the workshop or an ethics expert or whatever.
Talk a little bit more about what it means to sort of know already what the right thing to do is.
Well take something like social justice, I mean, so his feeling was that people, people know what the right thing to do is, but they're they don't have a past relationship with it. They don't act on it. Right? They speculate. So he stressed a lot that we need to think more about how we appropriate our ideals, what our relationship to our deals are. So for example, it's easy to talk about love and everything. But are you a loving individual? Do you go out of your way to help people? So he's more more about the not about the knowledge but about, about the belief, our relationship to our ideals themselves? So instead of hitting, say, like on Facebook, going out and doing something, you know, so I think that's that that's definitely where he said, he emphasized a lot. And it's some extent that's from his artistic background. That's something that I think but I think he's, there's a lot to be said there. So to do you really mean, it's claiming that you don't know what you're saying? You don't know, you know, you understand your talk unless you walk the talk?
Where do these ideas come from? How do we how do we choose the ideal that we're supposed to pursue?
Yeah, his his assumption is, is that they're, they're that they're universally distributed. The sense that same sense, I think that Kant thought that our knowledge of right and wrong was universally distributed. So he more or less assumes that it's there.
What is what does that mean universally distributed,
that people know us know the difference between right and wrong if they think about and something oftentimes don't have to think about it, but that doing the right thing will often lead us into his account will lead us into collisions with our long and short term interests. For example, if you're a policeman and you see your partner doing something abusive, you turn that person in it's, it's, you're in trouble, it's all you know, you're really in trouble, you know, and I like to stress them so that his his claim is that to lead a righteous life, you're gonna you're gonna have to make sacrifices, there's going to be collisions. And I try to tell my students to think about those because a lot of time and I'm sure you know this to jack that they just jump out of nowhere at all. So you're in a situation and you've got to make a choice. Right? Yeah. And I think it's good to rehearse what you want to do, you know, to think about that a little bit. I take somebody like the fellow returned to the people in the My Lai Massacre, right to noon, I mean, that that man had to put his train his guns on US troops and say, you do anything more and I'll shoot you. Right? And that came out of nowhere, he was coming in a helicopter, right? Just saw what was going on. So keep your Guard Reserve variable emphatic about the fact the idea that the about the collision between morality and so called happiness are our best interest.
And I find that really, to be quite quite true.
You used an example in passing, and you use spend a bit more time on in the book in this situation of a police officer who sees his partner doing something inappropriate, and wants to turn them in, but knows that if he turns him in, he'll get in trouble. He'll be a pariah. And he has this opportunity, right? His his Sergeant or his commander, whomever is walking by and says, Do you have anything to tell me? And there's this moment of decision? Why is that moment of decision so important? What happens psychologically, when a person is trying to decide what the right thing to do is?
What for example, in that case, I mentioned, I think I mentioned that just assume the guys at the person has a family, this officer has a family, and then the next thing you're thinking is, well, you don't have a job, I need to feed my family. Because, and, and, and before, you know what the person says, Well, you know, maybe I'll think about this a little bit. And then then the next thing you know, and it wasn't so bad, it was just an aberration. So at that moment, there's this collision between our our desire for self fulfillment, happiness, security and doing the right thing.
But you also point out that the longer you wait, the harder it is to do the right thing. Right.
That seems Yeah, that could, that's often the case, right? I'll sleep on it. And I talk about situations in which I did the wrong thing. And when we slip on it, we usually slip away from the moral issue, the doing the right path.
Is that because for the existentialist there's a tension between thought and action, that thinking is not a form of doing? That's right. I think so.
Yeah. Yeah, there's a difference. So that's one of the things that your Marxism is this, not not less than complete confidence in our rationality and our thought process and abstractions, right? being tough. I mean, one of the things about the existential threat, especially Kierkegaard is this idea of thinking about life from the inside out, for example, he will talk about, look, we'll all know all these objective facts about death. If you take our stick, you're going to die. Here, the protagonist dies in the fifth act, blah, blah, blah, all these objective facts, but that doesn't tell you what it means that you're gonna die, right to this interesting kind of an abstract knowledge and what something means to you. So I think that that that's an important part of this inside out perspective is an important aspect of the existential thought.
What What is meaning been in that sense? What when, when you say, we don't know what death means to us? What What does that term mean?
Well, that means that have something different that well, I take Ivan the death of abenomics. were my favorite books, right? So he says no, and he has a syllogism. kacica All men are mortal kiss a man therefore I'm kiss mortal. And that's an abstract understanding and quite different than what what it means to understand that you're going to die. And I would think that that set the kind of sense of meaning and understanding that kindergarten, Tolstoy pointing to is one that includes an effect and emotion, you know. So I think that's the kind of feeling of feeling understood. That's an understanding that includes an emotion and feeling.
So, um, yeah. So that's, that's how I say it,
can we tell the difference between a fleeting emotion and an emotion that is representative of meaning that has a profound impact on us?
Yeah, for example, so in this one of his great discourses, which is really accessible, and people might like to read as an add a grave site, and it's in his book called three discourse on imagined situations, and there it talks about, you know, the lessons we can learn from understanding that we're going to die on our own, and what it means for us to die. And, and there, he says that, we understand that you, it heightens the, when you when you when you realize that time is, is finite, that it increases the value of the finite things take on an infinite value become more important. So you'd be less reckless with your relationships. You say I you know, if you have an argument, it settled it, right? You do. So it will be combined with action. So to understand that you're going to understand your own mortality would be deleted certain kind of life. And I think you find that in total is either No, it's too right. That should be close to people that you wouldn't waste time you put in be reckless.
When we come back, I want to talk more about this personal relationships. I want to bring up some of the memoir aspects of your book. And I want to focus on freedom and authenticity and see what the existentialists in particular bring to the table. But before that, we'll take a break. You're listening to Gordon Reno and jack Russel Weinstein on why philosophical discussions but everyday life We'll be back right after this.
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your back with wide philosophical discussion about everyday life. I'm your host, jack Russell Weitzman, we're talking with Gordon Reno about the existentialists and about living an authentic life in an inauthentic age. And we're going to talk in a few minutes about freedom and what that means. And what popped into my head is a story from a long time ago that I hope I haven't told on the show before, but it's because to 10 years, I was involved in a lawsuit for the right to vote when I was a college student I fell through the cracks I the details aren't important. And I ended up winning and being the sole person on the campus who got to vote. I ran a campaign on campus to vote for the person that students chose as a sort of symbolic gesture of enfranchisement. They voted for a person, and I went into the voting booth in in New York state where I was going to school, it was the old fashioned booths where you pull the lever and the curtain closes. And I'm about to vote and I stopped and I realized I could vote for anybody I could vote for at the time it was to caucus, or Jackson, or bush or whomever I could vote for anyone no one would ever know. And I could walk out and lie. And I made this commitment to vote for the person that the students voted for. But I could do whatever I want it. And this was an incredibly powerful experience. For me. It was an experience that has stayed with me for years and years about what it means to be free. Because being free meant no one holding me accountable for what I did. Except of course, I held myself accountable. I knew what I was doing. I knew that I'd have to live with not doing it and lying if I didn't do it and lied. Now I can tell you, I voted for who I said I would vote for and you can believe me or not. But what's important is that moment of absolute freedom, where I am the only person who is looking at myself. So Gordon, I want to ask, Is this experience this moment of freedom? Am I right, in interpreting this as an existentialist moment? As an example of precisely what the existential call human freedom?
Yeah, the mobile moment of choice. Yeah, it sounds right. To me. That's quite a story. Yeah. And I think that's the kind of thing that I'm talking about, what the example of the policeman, right. Yeah. So that seems that seems right to be. And also, I'm a soccer, for example, on says that, in those situations, we don't have any objective guidelines for how to choose. And so that, that freedom of choice comes with anxiety. And also despair is about because we don't know whether or not it's going to lead to, there's no guarantee that your choices will lead to the right cause the consequences you're hoping. Right so
you make the point in the book that we spent a lot of time talking about depression, but we don't really talk about this notion of despair. What does despair mean? And why is it a word that we should reintroduce into the vocabulary?
Yeah, so I care card draws this distinction, I think between despair and depression and he seemed to think he could be or between psychological and spiritual health we talked a lot of people united states talk about their spiritual but not religious Well, well then we still want to ask what does it mean to to be spiritually spiritually healthy as opposed to psychologically healthy and I think you're guarded so I'm suffer as a person who is quite depressive and at the same time in good spiritual federal good good good good spirits and I and so he's he says that um, despair is not the most the most people think of despair as a particular feeling. He says, it's not a thing. It's it's a desire to be rid of yourself, not not to become yourself in everything. And so I think for him despair would be to take the distinction between despair and depression, a person who was was depressed and identified themselves with that gave up their moral projects gave up their visions of life, that person would fall in and be falling into despair. So I think in terms of a relationship we have, we have, we have a set of emotions and then but on top of that, we have a way of relating to our emotions. And if we relate to them in the wrong way, we fall into despair.
That's really interesting. What's the difference between having emotions and relating to emotions?
Okay, so I suppose I feel if I'm having some suppose I'm going through a rough time feeling terrible and everything and just completely feel completely identified with that, that feeling. That's that's a, and give up my aspirations to say being suppose one of my aspirations before that was to be a loving kindness event. And because of the depression, I just feel like it's impossible, you know, I can't do it. So, I think we well, we don't have control of our emotions, we do have a lot of sway over how we relate to our emotions, what we do with our emotions, do you push through it, and in try to be a loving person, even though you feel like nothing matters at certain times. And it's when we give up that relationship to our emotions, I think from at least in my adult, my sweetened version of care card is where is where we fall into despair. Now for him, it's losing faith in God and, and in the belief that you have a self that you're born to be a certain kind of self. Right? So I tried to provide him. So he always thinks in terms of faith, it's always faith for him to despair as they give up on the eternal in yourself. But I think there's also another way of understanding that,
what what's the difference between what you're saying now, and how you deal with emotions and how you act on the emotions, and those who say, when we talk about addiction, when we talk about a dysfunction, or self destruction, that really, it's just a problem of willpower, and people just have to be strong and put up with it, you actually tell the story of a teacher when you were in school, who responded to your assertion of being depressed as saying, you know, basically just get over it be a man sort of thing? What's the difference between the existential claim of relating to your emotions in a way that inspires action? And the more sort of
right right, probably pull yourself up by your bootstraps, toughen, right? Which I think is the appropriate was, which is sometimes appropriate as, as I'm sure you, you felt in classroom situations, that exam times too, right. But, uh, I think differences in tone, it's not, it's not that you yell at yourself, it's achieved this realization, I have a, I have a higher task in life, and I'm not gonna, but I have a higher test in life of becoming a certain kind of human being, and I'm not going to let these feelings stop me for doing that. So have a vision of what kind of person want to be in for for your career card often emphasizes that when you have courage is when fear drives that another. So, suppose you were anxious and tempted to lie to a professor or something about you know, I can't make it to my exam because my grandma died again or whatever.
The 15th Grandma,
right, right. And if you were more afraid of being a jerk than a failing, then you'd still go to the exam, right? So for him a lot of the time, it really is a matter of knowing what to fear. And the real thing to fear is being a jerk, not being a good loving person. And if
and this connects to sark's idea, right, that, that we we realize who we are, by what we choose, echoes of Aristotle here that, that if we, if we accept the lie, and don't go to the class, then it's then then we value being a jerk. Right? We are okay with being a jerk.
Yeah, either that or we tell ourselves we'll tell the truth. And next time, you know, we don't think that by, by, by by lying, we become a liar. Right? I mean, that's one of Aristotle's points, right? When I think when you go down the wrong path, you start a certain habit, you go into a prison, you tell you first line you start to pick up, you can become a liar become a habit, right? But we tell ourselves, maybe next time I'll be it doesn't matter. You know, if it's suppose you're a pre med student, and you're taking a class and aesthetics or something, you say, you might say to yourself, Well, this isn't going to enter into what I'm doing later on in life. So it doesn't, it's okay to cheat.
I want to talk about your life a little bit because the intertwined within the philosophical discussion is a memoir. And there's discussion about addiction and self destructive behavior. I want to go and backwards though. You spend some time talking about boxing, you're a boxing coach right now, you boxed for a while when you were when you were younger. What do you say to someone who says, Well, you keep talking about loving kindness, but boxing isn't loving and kind. Boxing is brutal and violent? Where does something like that fit in? And the reason why I asked this is because I think that part of what's happening on the existentialists is that they're asking us to look beneath the surface of what things look like to us, but rather talk about the meaning behind it. And so what's the meaning behind boxing and how does it fit into this higher goal? being a good person or being
a loving person, right, right. What am I talking about script sounds crazy. Yeah, okay. I think that I think that boxing we don't get a lot of workshops in surplus certain emotions that are so important life like anxiety and rage and people who are consistently record box and get a lot of practice to those emotions and get control over the motions and makes them less violent people for one thing, you know, they not all of them, but it ultimately makes them they get control their emotional and also the upper level of sort of self knowledge there because boxing's real gut check you find out a lot about yourself in your in the ring. But also I found that a lot of the kids that I work with over the past three years, they come from environments where they never, they don't get they don't get much love, don't get any affirmation and they're angry and they go to school and they get in trouble in school and all they get is yelled at all the time. And they finally get in this community of people where there's a they said, Man, you're good at something, you know, there's, they get the sunshine about some kind of affirmation. And they blossom, some you know a lot of time and become and they're probably at home and there's people who have boxes will move very at home in themselves a lot of time and um, and therefore more capable of being vulnerable. And again, this isn't all for all boxers a lot of I do a lot of boxing journalism so and a lot of people in professional boxing who might not fit in there. But by and large that that love and affirmation and that feeling at home in themselves a new sense of self respect, very potent, makes them better people.
You know, it's interesting, you say that, because I think about some of the great boxing movies, right, the early Rockies and actually the later middle ones.
The other ones are ridiculous.
But that creed is wonderful. And I'm a big fan of Rocky Balboa. But but but that's another conversation.
We could spar about that.
That those movies, the good ones are about love and about Rocky and his love finding love from Adrian finding love from Mickey the coach. And compare that to Raging Bull, which is not about love, right, which is which is about self destructiveness and fame and things like that. And so I guess there's more of a legacy of love and, and care and self training. And in a piece that I wrote years ago, actually one of my first public philosophy pieces, I wrote that sports movies are the only movies that show us the true development of knowledge that you start with an athlete who doesn't know what they're doing, and then over time trains and gets better and trains and trains and trains and gets better. But when we have movies about school, or movies like goodwill hunting, knowledge is magical, right? It just sort of happened. Someone hasn't.
Hmm, that'sa good point. Yeah.Yeah.
And, and so what is it about boxing? That is so existential why, as you said, You learn a lot about yourself in the ring. What do you learn about yourself in the ring? And why is it that such a physical activity can give us such an insight into our psyche, our persona, ourself, what what is it about that sport that does that?
Well, you learn what you're willing to do to do when you find out that if you get too enraged, you're not gonna be able to perform, you learn about anxiety, like one of the big lessons I try to teach with my boxing students or who is to be at home with anxiety, that fear is a big part of it to not I've had boxes before fights and not to not anxious I get I get, I know we're in big trouble. So So this ability to sit with anxiety and not panic about anxiety, not panic about it, which I think is a real life lesson. So also how to take a blow, how to take a punch. To do the right thing in life, we're going to take punches, and you get some practice that that in the ring, you know, for example, one, really terrible things happen with students, sometimes I'll tell them, it's like a punch me, you feel it, and it wears off. But you gotta take it, take some deep breaths and let it run through you. So tremendous lessons like that. But also also, and this is encouraged on dealing with fear, which we don't stress enough in our society, that we have to let that mean, that that boxing is practice and dealing with fear. That's what I talk about that one exercise I do. We're, we're across the tenancy in boxing is when someone's trying to punch is a backup or to backup just to keep backing up, and which is the most dangerous thing to do. And so I'll have a stand behind somebody, and I'll call it the courage exercise and the other person's throwing punches and you can't back up, you know, and so I think there's there's not a lot of avenues in places today where we get practice and develop and courage. They don't even talk about when I was a football, I was a football coach at Yale and here and other places. And he used to be there was a lot of too when I was growing up, there's a lot of talk about it being you know, courage and this kind of stuff. Not much today. So if we're going to be good people with new courage If we're going to develop courage, we need to build a deal with fear. We need to get some practice at it. And discernment. I'm sounding like a corner man now.
No, but that's that's it's. But this is existentialism in action, right you have spent your life in and around the boxing ring, you've spent your life being a philosopher, you prefer a professional eventually, amateur before. And that's how you look at the world. And isn't that part of what existentialism is going to tell us? Right, that that, that the things that are the most meaningful to us, in terms of what we do are also going to be the things that are the most meaningful in terms of explaining ourselves.
So could you clarify that a little bit?
Sure. I mean, look, we, as as a boxer is about boxing coaches, a boxing journalist, that's got to have a profound effect on who you are on how you see yourself, and how you see the world through. So how else are you going to explain the values that you hold dear, if not through boxing, right. And and so I guess, the point that I'm making or the question that I'm asking, I'm not sure what it is, is, is, isn't existentialist isn't the existentialist argument that since we define meaning for ourselves, and since our choices, and our experiences are the direct connection to our meaning, that it's the very point that you are so excited and revert to be in the corner man, that is the proof that existentialism has something powerful, because to steal a line from from from john Stuart Mill, the proof is that people do it right. The proof of existentialism is that when we get to something we care about, that's when we get to explain our meet our meanings. That's when we get to explain our values. Isn't that what existential ism is ultimately saying?
Well, I don't know. Because the census is such a motley crew, like there's so many differences between Sartre and kicker. And I don't think for example, Kier gore would have a lot to say about explaining our value, I don't think he'd see that is really important in that it was really easy to explain which value. So or so I think there's quite a few, there are people that there's this themes that linked them together, but I'm not so sure that I could lump them all together as having one particular position on say, the issue of meaning, the value of life for your ability, and the whole idea of an argument. They don't think that like Hugo doesn't think often terms in terms of, you know, what's your argument, which is a, of course, and I think the the existentialist actually raised this important question, you know, what exactly does it what constitutes an argument? For example, keycards arguments are oftentimes, pictures of people. And the question is whether or not you see yourself in them, you know, they're not the kind of arguments that we find in philosophic philosophy colloquium all the time. So I think there is a question of what counts as a reason or an argument.
Is that why literature traditionally defined plays such an important role in extensions, and we have khemu, who's a novelist ceart writes novels and plays in particular character Guard has these portraits of people. is is is the appeal of of the literature? Showing not telling?
That's a good distinction, jack? Yeah, I think that's right. He took a look at the death of Ivan knowledge, which again, I just thought Tolstoy now think it's such a lapidary beautiful text and talks about how alienated people are from one another, but isn't just you know, doesn't just lay it out there and see, it gives you he paints this picture, which you can see it, you know, and I think that's quite different than giving some, you know, presenting some abstract argument has a different power to it.
Does that help us or hinder us from finding a commonality and its diversity? And what I mean by this is, one of the classical arguments for argument is that logic is universal, that all human beings have the same basic reasoning process, although that eventually comes under attack. That's certainly the classical idea. But we live in a world in which there's tremendous diversity in which there's different religions and different races and different classes and radically different experiences. And does the literary nature of existentialism help us bridge that gap? And subordinate to that is this question I cited to Europeans in the monologue, and we've been talking about Europeans or although I think commu was North African, right, right. A is, but I'm gonna put this in the crudest way possible, and then we can find a more sophisticated is existentialism for black people to write. I mean, where does the literature solve the problem of diversity or does the literature exacerbate the difference?
So what do you mean by the problem of diversity, I talk about that a little more
If I have the experience that I have, right, I grew up in New York City in a very poor neighborhood, and a very bad,
I think I could hear a little New Yorker in you.
Just get me angry, you throw punches and I throw curses.
I throw curses too baby.
But um, um, you know, I had a lot of I had a very difficult time adjusting to North Dakota, I'm on my 17th year. And that's a surprise. And because it was a very diverse experience, yet at the same time, I will use the language of the left here being read as a Caucasian, I have this white privilege that allows me to enter the community in a certain way that that an African American who grew up in my neighborhood would have a much harder time, right? We live in a community in which race, gender religion, especially Islam right now is is is is is on that is part of the discourse. So the question I have is, when we have literary experiences like coffee tough, does the trial.
Take Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man the prologue, I mean, here's the next this person who is steeped in Kierkegaard Kierkegaard comes up all over it. beautiful example of, of, of the problem of race, right? the prologue The Invisible Man that to be marginalized in society is to be invisible to be treated like an object. And, you know, so I think, I think there is a lot to be said there in favor literature.
And you and you talk about Invisible Man in the book. I'm, I'm trying to figure out how to ask this question. To what extent is existential as Okay. Is existentialism so? I keep refining the question. I I like doing this because it's, it's very important. I think we we all see on television, so often, pundits who have perfect questions and perfect answers. And never think, and I love on the show, when the guests are I have to re articulate things, because that's what the listeners are going through. They're like, wait a minute, but let me let me think of it now.
Come on, baby let's go.
And so the question is, where is the intersection? Next extension between the individual and the cultural experience? Can Can Can a can an individual African American define for him or herself? What the black experience means? Or is the black experience a sort of a brute fact about the world that has to be accepted in order to figure out who someone is the same question for a white person, for an Asian person for Native American for whatever category we want to put, where's the intersection between what it means to be an individual and the hardened fastness of the cultural constructs and rules and expectations that we are a part of?
Yeah, I don't know that anybody could come up with a mat map or a logarithm for that. But uh, yeah, one of the intersections that I was I thought of in the book and just mentioned briefly was that, uh, that kid guard stresses how important it is to love concern, love that in order to love other people, you have to love yourself in the proper sense of the word, right? You have to care about your soul, your character. And when people are marginalized and treated like dirt, it gets really hard to love yourself. It can it's, it's a real impediment. And that that's one of the places where I think we're racism and sexism are really poisonous, you know, and that kirkegaard, I think, helps us understand that. So the ability to love yourself depends upon this love from other people. Right. And if you're treated like dirt, it makes it hard, hard to love yourself. And then it seemed Alison Ellison texts that he talks about not only makes it hard to love yourself, he leads this weariness of confusion. So I think there are places in for all damages on the individual that there are places in these existential texts that that address that you know, so if we go take a kid Guardian, perspective on some of the things we talked about today, for example, a lot of talk or college about privilege or stuff, but what does it mean? It really isn't a matter of like, and and sometimes I see people lacerate themselves about it, but I don't see anybody giving up any privilege. I don't see anybody given up any further. So what would it mean to really feel feel understand your privilege and do something about it? So so for so kid garden and the structure to this idea that that sometimes, we talk a lot about things that we don't, we don't really act upon don't really change our lives at all. You know, so, I'm raising the question about this, some of the patois privilege and everything today.
So let me go back to the memoir aspect because I think this isn't it is a discussion that I want to have about change and how we see ourselves and how we change. Talk a little bit about I certainly don't want to describe for the audience, in my words, your experience, as you articulate talk a little bit about your childhood and the the dysfunctions that you've described in the book and how it made you ready for existentialism?
Well, that's a pretty broad, that's, that's a tough one, jack, but I grew up in a house in which was a good deal, a lot of love, but a tremendous amount of fights, but fights between my parents all the time, a lot of violence. Scary, you know, so it made me think a lot a lot about who's right, who's wrong, that kind of thing. And I'm certainly certainly gave me an edge of anger and fear. You know, critic, made me an insomniac, I think, you know, cuz a lot of times the fights would start at night. So created a deep need for some solace and understanding of what's going on in life. You know, it's crazy, in part because of this kind of dichotomy between things being on the one hand, having these loving paths from the other hand, then going out at each other with a hammer and tongs at night. And, and then kind of in the morning, pretending like oh, everything's okay.
You know, so you found solace in the bottle, right? or soft science in the bottle?
Yeah, yeah. Other things, other things as well. Yeah. Yeah. And then, then when I went to this, I was married to someone who had went through a breakup early on in life. And that was just devastating for me. And so yeah, a lot of losses and, and feeling like I was disintegrating and was, yeah, so, so kierkegaard. help help me make sense of it. So one of the ways that kierkegaard helped me was that he helped me feel that suffering wasn't a stench that you could do it well, or poorly, that it was an action that you could do it No, boy. And this is after the breakup with my first wife. And when I was in the mental hospital, at one point, everything and so he that was very edifying for the upbuilding.
I wonder if you could explain that what what what that means that that suffering was not a stench that you could do poorly? Or Well, what do you mean by that?
Well, that sometimes when you feel like a leper, when you when you're severely depressed, anxious, right, it feels like, like, nobody wants to just feel like, worthless. And that kind of I had a very passive attitude towards it, like, you know, life was over, and I'm so good, and blah, blah, blah, and that just bide my time. And he helped me and people, some people around me, they got I saw, reach through pain and be loving people helped me as well. But somehow I got the message for him that Look, listen, the psychological suffering is part of life, and he can either crush you or you can try to develop from it. So it really helped me wake up a little bit.
And I'm very interested in that process, because the introduction to the book has a more detailed account of your life. And then interspersed within the chapters are more stories and connections. There isn't as clear an account of the period in which your healing and the way in which the existentialists kirkegaard specifically helped you heal. Do you think that or maybe Hill's not the wrong word function? Move to the next chapter? What? What is it about the existentialists? Could you talk a little bit about this period in your life if you don't mind? Yeah, sure. Sure. And, and how the texts and the readings helped you move from this more self destructive period in your life right to the the classy, well regarded professional that you are today?
Yeah. Well, then I was also it was it was it was in therapy at the time with a with a bodhisatta of a therapist is I still talked to after 45 years, wrote a piece in a long, long in the New York Times, I think it's called a long conversation about about that, and it was Beatrice Beebe, and so I was in therapy, and she treated me for free because I didn't have any money and it was a so the power of relationships is really an addition to reading care card. I think relationships are so important and healing and I think in our modern understanding of mental health, that's kind of gone out the window with just the use of medications in very short term therapy. Hmm. So that that was a very, very important and in the, in the process of therapy and care credit card, who also I say, helped me Take me take an approach the faith now help me try to trust in God. And I know that'll offend some people, but it's, it did, it's an instant still. I still try to trust in God and and in part he was able to do that. Because he may be see what a leap, the idea of a leap of faith, it seems to me that trusting God seems relatively more or less irrational, He always talks about faith is this collision with reason. So that that was very important in helping me learn to sit with my emotions and not freak out and go get drunk or take some drugs. You know, so, part of the lesson was learning to sit with emotions, and not and not not not run.
Was it important to you that Kierkegaard himself was a lifelong struggle with depression? Did you see yourself in him?
It was, it was clear to me that he knew what that was like. But that wasn't that was an important factor, because I wasn't reading his journals that much, then there's letters, it was a, that wasn't, it was just good that he knew about it. And also he wrote the concept of anxiety and depression and anxiety go together a lot. And he was, that's what I found so appealing about a good these guys cardigan in particular. We help helps us to face what we're up against in ourselves. Those ugly feelings of peace, I wrote on envy in the New York Times today was about that the to be a good person struggles, certain emotions that we have. And it's easy to be, it's easy to be really nice one, like you just get a letter accepted to med school, whatever. Every all the lights are green, it's easy to be a nice person, then, well, how about one things aren't so good. You know, and, and I think he addresses those internal obstacles a lot. And much better than the other extra stencils. So maybe Tolstoy
Do you think that existentialism can be either a substitute or a supplement for medication?
Oh, yeah, I think they certainly can be a supplement. Yeah, definitely. Yeah. Now so well, in the way that it talks about how to write a new way of thinking about your emotional life again, this idea that it's one thing to be depressed, it's another thing to identify yourself, that doesn't, that we have a relationship to our emotions that we have some sway over. And that's something you can start to to write that emotions are interpretations. And I think the the party today is that we have no control over them, just get rid of them. Also, the idea that the good thing that, for example, kicker, they get this notion that anxiety is a sign that your spirit, right, that it's not just a symptom of a malady, and that you can learn something from depression, learn vulnerability, learn openness to others, right. So this idea that there's positive, there's also there's all sorts of something to learn from these very difficult emotions. Yeah, so sure, definitely a supplement. Take it three times a day.
This, this is a I think this is the most important and radical notion in the modern context that keeps coming up, which is that we don't just feel emotions. We're not just a slave to our emotions, that we have a relationship with our emotions, I keep thinking back to a conversation I had with my father. It was 1994 I was about to leave the country go to Vienna, was the first time I ever left the country. I was going for six months ended up staying for a year and a half. I knew two words of German, please and whipped cream, both both from john Irving novels. And, and it was the night before and I was talking to my dad about how scared I was and he said, Well, you shouldn't be scared. beings, you know, you don't need to be scared. And my response was, it's okay to be scared. It's only not okay to do it to not do it because I'm scared. That's right. And I think that's what you're done to not not criticize my dad who was incredible influence in my life. But um, but this notion that we have this this this this this relationship with our emotions, you have that phrase I'm not going to do it justice you probably know it by heart now that the self is a is a relationship. I don't I definitely know that one day. Could you say it to the audience off
The self is relation that relates itself to itself?
Yes. The self is a relation that relates itself to itself right that you can you explain it over and over?
I got that tattooed on my right arm so it poses a lot of boxing people.
It's a great, it's, it's a great, it's a great quote. And of course, what it means is that we do have this relationship with ourselves and we have this relationship with emotions and we can do things with it. And that's, I think, one of the
Yeah, okay. But the modern mentality kind of medic medicalization, everything discourages people from thinking that way. I think I tell the story in the book, I had a student who, of course, the end of semester can't read his papers. He says, uh, I'm depressed. I need to I need extra time. And I know, you know, I said, what's up what's going on man? And he says, I just need to titrate my chemicals, right? I need another No need. Another form of medication. I said that, but then he slips out with me. Well, my parents got divorced two weeks ago, but that that shouldn't matter at all because I'm 20. And, you know, as though so we're there's an invitation, not to think about our experience. Not to not to Not to appreciate that relationship to our emotions. Right and to appreciate the relationship to emotions is in some sense to be open to the task of reflection. And that's a painful process all the time. Right? I mean, so there's a lot in our society says that don't worry about thinking about, it's just a waste of time, just take this pill, or just a, go to cognitive behavioral therapy and get a couple of tips about, you know, strategies.
And to the audience, what I want to say is, that's the elevator pitch of, of your book, that the power of your book in the modern discussion is that it is a plea for reflection, it runs counter to the to the urge to medicate immediately, you you're very clear that you're not opposed to medication, and you give a very powerful story of someone who, for whom it's very useful. So so I don't want anyone to think that you're, you're, you're wiping away that solution. It's very important. But
that's true. I'm sorry,
I don't know that. It's great. I am here to advocate for your idea. That's right. No,
no, but that is something that people could get wrong. But I'm just saying, don't never take, never take medication or anything like that.
No, and you're very clear that it plays a very important purpose. But you're also very clear that we need a space to give ourselves permission to reflect that some of our reflection is painful. And the fact that it's painful, doesn't mean that it's bad. The fact that it's difficult or complicated or leads to sadness, right, of course, you're going to be sad when your parents get divorced. In fact, the studies show that the older you are, the harder the divorce is on you. And and so right if you want to get divorced, get divorced, when your kids a year old is when your kids 20. It's a lot harder, as and I say that as someone whose parents got divorced when he was a year and a half, the idea of the two of them together is so horrifying. I'm so grateful that they were divorced. They know I know this. So it's not a shock. But But this idea that that even though we reflect, and it's painful, that doesn't mean we shouldn't reflect and it's not valuable, that working through the pain, working through the anxiety, working through the despair is part of the glory of the freedom of the human experience that can lead us to faith it can lead us to love. It doesn't have to lead us to faith, it can leave us to self awareness, self understanding. You're very clear in the book that while there is the strain of existentialists and you yourself have this relationship with faith that it need not be focused on God and faith that there's room for everyone. So then let me ask you following that, is there room for the Facebook generation? We are asked
after that after that?
Well, that's, that's what yeah,
That's a sneak punch right.
After that one you're gonna say was the room for the Facebook? Okay,
what I mean by that, what I mean by that I'm leading you down a certain path is our students and high school students even younger, are constantly posing, they're projecting their their life as the best life it can be. And this leads to anxiety from people who say, Well, my life isn't that good. How did the existentialists fit to people whose experience of their self is one of branding and performance, as opposed to one of intimacy and vulnerability.
It just be shaking their head man, the existentialist Pantheon, they'd all be shaking their head and sadness, this terrible lack of lack of lack of intimacy, and you go to the gym today, like everybody's got earphones on their chicken, you see, you go to the gym, and people be you talk to one another, you can make friends there. Now, I literally was in the gym the other day, and everybody had earphones on was checking their Facebook, you know, was checking their phones. It's bad. It's bad. I think it's really bad for being puffins a closeness being together, you know, I can think of like intimacy and closest as most important things in life, I don't think I don't think Facebook etc, is really much of a boon to that.
It's funny, because one of the great gym experiences and I don't know how many people would feel the same way. But one of the great gym experiences is someone coming up to you and asking them to spot you. That's right
on the bad foot. It doesn't happen so much anymore. No, doesn't. Right.
And it's it's a sign of, of, of competence. It's a sign of acceptance. It's that even if you don't talk other than saying, you know, you could do it, lift it, you're almost there. There is an intimacy there.
That's right. And what's happened to our sense of intimacy, you know, I think it's really detrimental to that and that's one of things it just realized what a blessing it is to share your life with people to share your life. That was awesome. I don't really I told the story in the in the book about a boxer I trained who does Okay, tell a little story.
Sure. Absolutely. Please. Oh, yeah.
Yeah. So it's a spotlight training from from Mexico, Muslim boxers from Mexico and he barely is professional boxer really good. And we're sitting in front of was, he's getting to If it was coming up on that was coming up on television and everything and so we go to the you know, I pick them up by Louis, we live in a small town, it's hard to find and impossible to find springs where the drive all over the place to find good spine for him. So we're up in Minneapolis and Jim wasn't open when he got up there on a Saturday. And so we're sitting there and you know, he's, he's a tough character, and my Spanish is baby Spanish, his English has baby English, so but I had this little book next to me called the big porcupine. And I knew this man, there isn't that far that I knew he had a he had three kids, and he was really a dedicated parent. And I also knew that that, uh, how many words you hear in English is very important in being successful in school. So I got this professor and he said, I handed this book read this book, you know, and he looks at me and he's scared looking on, like, who the, you know, and he starts to read it, man. And this children's book, The Big porcupine, and tears cams my eyes, because he I realized he's letting me into his life, letting me into his life. And prior to that, I was like, pat myself on the back lot, because I'm such a good guy, because I spend my time training these kids, you know, and training people and service to others like that, you know, and I realized, man, that that here is, here's this other human being from, you know, opening up his life and vulnerability to man, how, what a treasure that is, and that's helping us with students and in life, and just this recognition of how important intimacy is and sharing our lives together, you know?
Do you think that there's any way to replicate that intimacy using social networks? Do you think that there's any way to make some social network an existential experience? Or do you think that it's just so profoundly opposed to the the relational aspect of it to that the intimate and authentic aspect of it, which I want to follow up in a second? That, that it's just, they're just different polls,
I think the different polls, but I also know that people that are sick or that are can't get out and can't, you know, locked up, you know, not in situations where they're not mobile and can't be around others that they can find a lot of, it's very meaningful to them. So it's, it's certainly good for some for some folks. But I think it's also addictive and detrimental to a sense of closeness and intimacy of sharing our life together. But But again, for some people, I know people that have second, that's how they connect, and it's really, really meaningful to them.
So a tool is a tool, and it's how human beings use it.
Yeah, yeah. Or if we go to nature, supposing values, it's not good or bad, and there's good and bad, there's good. And it's something that's both good and bad, right? One of the things we learned from Nietzsche is this idea of the connection between opposing values that it's not an either or on a binary. And that's true a lot of a lot of time.
And so I want to, we need to start wrapping up, but the title of the episode. And what I initially said we were talking about, was this concept of authenticity. We actually really didn't use the word very much until just now, I wondered if you talk just a bit about what authenticity means. And if you're able to sort of tie a little bit the conversation that we've had, how does love? How does intimacy, how does anxiety How does depression, how to fear? How does morality? What how do we get into the discussion of authentic, what does authenticity mean? And why is it such a key concept that helps people get into the conversation?
Without so I know, it's unfair to be with an uppercut there.
So, so so the idea of authenticity, which most people don't talk about today was a huge term in like the 70s. And 60s, it's not it's not a term that most people use today. And in the book, I talk about it as a some people think as being your, your kind of a creative thing of being your true self. And whereas someone that kick I would say, it's becoming who you really are, right? So among the existentialist, there's quite a difference there. So someone like Nietzsche would say, being authentic and being and that he doesn't use the term I don't think very much, if at all, would be stepping out from the herd and being creative and, you know, being making your work life and artwork. And whereas others, someone like your guard would be like, Well, you could be really successful in that if you missed the boat on being a loving human being, you've missed the boat, you've missed out, you missed being authentic, he missed becoming your real self, right. So I think there's two ways of looking at that and you can't sit around Round and say, Well, you know, give me a good argument for what the what the self is, and then I'll go about it, right. So it's, it's an either or, you know, either or whether you think there's something deep down inside your boss a self. I think about a lot of someone being at home in their skin being honest in themselves, right? I think of authenticity in that way, that way a lot. Those are some of the some of the characteristics I associate with it, though, to deal with the awkwardness to be there for other people.
You know, I want to close just by making an observation, I'm looking at the table of contents of the book, and I'm looking at the order of the chapters, and I'm just gonna read them aloud to you into the audience. And I want to make a point, you start with anxiety, and then you go to depression and despair than death than authenticity than faith than morality than love. It seems to me, and I don't know whether this was intentional or not, that the progression of the chapters is a progression towards authenticity, that you start with the story of your life, and you go through the most negative emotions, and you end up through faith, morality, and ultimately, to love which is the most positive. And that whether you intend it or not, the book itself is an existentialist journey. Taking its readers to this place of authenticity, whether they can choose to do it, whether they they act on it, of course, is, is in their power, not yours. But I think it's a tremendously impressive task to take someone from the particulars of your own life, to the universal experience of love that everyone ultimately aims for. And I just think it's worth saying to you and to the audience, that that that in itself is tremendously powerful. And I found that progression of the book, very, very moving. And while I, myself, as the host wasn't able to articulate that, throughout this discussion, I think the book itself really brings people to the kierkegaardian place of faith and love that you've been articulating. And so I just want to say that I think you've done that very, very well. And that the book can be a tremendous experience for people who, who are trying to find the way to self reflect and find that love that allows them to relate to others as well as themselves.
I'm very grateful for that. And I think you have the trajectory, the book, just right. And I'm really appreciated. JACK.
Gordon, thank you so much for joining us on why this has been a tremendous discussion, and I think it opens up the avenue for a lot of future discussions and certainly for self reflection. For everybody who's listening. Thanks so much for joining us on why'd you. Thank you. You've been listening to Gordon Reno and jack Russel Weinstein on why philosophical discussions about everyday life. I'll be back with a few more thoughts right after this.
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You're back with why philosophical discussions in everyday life. I'm your host, jack Russell Weinstein, we were talking with Gordon Marino about authenticity and existentialism, and trying to figure out how to live in a world full of fear and anxiety and despair. The existentialists believe that human beings are free. What they mean by this freedom is that we have the ability to choose our own meaning in life. Maybe that can be a life of faith, maybe it can be a life of goodness, maybe it can be even a life of hedonism and dastardly ness, we are free to do those things. But what this means is that in the modern world, we are responsible for our own actions. And that makes us afraid it makes us anxious, it makes us depressed. Sometimes the machine doesn't work well, and we need medicine to help us find equilibrium. But sometimes, we're just not thinking enough. And what the existentialists want us to do, and what Gordon asks us to do is to take the time to reflect not just on our actions, and not just on who we are, but on our relationship with our emotions. What are the consequences of being depressed? What are the consequences of being anxious? How do we fight through it? And how do we find meaning in the unpleasantness it's trite to say that the journey What matters and it's trite to say that we learn from the punches to use Gordon's boxing metaphor. But there is something powerful about the fact that even the sadness is valuable. Even the alienation has its power. If we lose our parents to divorce, it's okay to be sad. It's okay to have emotions. The question is, what is our relationship with that emotions? And how do we celebrate and manipulate and choose that relationship? So that we make the best choices we can and be the person we want to be or the person we should be? What is the person we should be? What ideals do we strive for? These are great questions. What the existential stood was put them on the table for us to ask them not as matters of philosophical abstract contemplation, but as matters of doing and living and acting. We act on our ideals. Are they the ideals that we want them to be? This is the question at hand. Gordon Marino is a boxing tutor. He's also a philosopher. He is lived a complex life of addiction and self destruction. And he came out on the other side, because he saw kinship in the ideas that people put forth. His book suggests, and I would suggest that you can find some of that kinship to whether your life is going well, or your life is going poorly. The existentialist will help you survive, and they'll help you live authentically in an inauthentic age. And Gordon, and I are glad to be part of that with you. You've been listening to Jack Russel Weinstein on why philosophical discussions but everyday life Thank you for listening. As always, it's an honor to be with you.
Why is funded by the Institute for philosophy and public life, Prairie Public Broadcasting in the University of North Dakota is College of Arts and Sciences and division of Research and Economic Development. Skip wood is our studio engineer. The music is written and performed by Mark Weinstein and can be found on his album Louis soul. For more of his music, visit jazz flute weinstein.com or myspace.com slash Mark Weinstein. Philosophy is everywhere you make it and we hope we've inspired you with our discussion today. Remember, as we say at the Institute, there is no ivory tower.