Philosophy with a Southern Drawl: Rick Roderick Teaches Derrida, Foucault, Sartre and Others

Ah, 20th-cen­tu­ry phi­los­o­phy: even a great many philoso­phers of the 20th cen­tu­ry would­n’t touch it. When you want to approach a thorny, com­plex, con­tra­dic­to­ry field like this, you espe­cial­ly val­ue a teacher like Rick Rod­er­ick (1949–2002). Called “the Bill Hicks of Phi­los­o­phy” by his fan sites, Rod­er­ick record­ed a series of lec­tures for The Teach­ing Com­pa­ny, in the ear­ly nineties. (Though the Great Cours­es have grown far more slick­ly pro­duced since then, the intel­lec­tu­al con­tent of their old­er efforts, like this one, remains sol­id.) Above, you’ll find “The Mas­ters of Sus­pi­cion,” the intro­duc­to­ry lec­ture to “The Self Under Seige,” his video course on 20th-cen­tu­ry philoso­phers. In eight seg­ments (avail­able in a playlist below), Rod­er­ick cov­ers the likes of Jacques Der­ri­da, Michel Fou­cault, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Jür­gen Haber­mas. Per­haps he can make sense of them for you; if not, he’ll make them into hours of enter­tain­ment.

Not hav­ing come up steeped in 20th-cen­tu­ry phi­los­o­phy dur­ing his own edu­ca­tion, Rod­er­ick has his own opin­ions about how these lumi­nar­ies throw into ques­tion all forms of human knowl­edge and iden­ti­ty. But he does take their ideas seri­ous­ly, con­nect­ing them as he con­sid­ers them to real issues and then-cur­rent events.

This reveals that he also has his own opin­ions, more than will­ing­ly giv­en, about — bear in mind, the year was 1993 — Bill Clin­ton, Jesse Helms, polit­i­cal cor­rect­ness, Pat Buchanan, Bil­ly Gra­ham, net­work tele­vi­sion, Jer­ry Fal­well, and The Big Chill. “When we do phi­los­o­phy my way,” Rod­er­ick announces in his dis­tinc­tive West Texas accent, “we just talk about what’s goin’ on and try to find our way about.” If that’s how you like phi­los­o­phy done, vis­it to hear much more of it.

You can find more recent phi­los­o­phy cours­es pro­duced by The Great Cours­es here.

Relat­ed con­tent:

170 Free Phi­los­o­phy Cours­es

Michel Fou­cault: Free Lec­tures on Truth, Dis­course & The Self

Wal­ter Kaufmann’s Lec­tures on Niet­zsche, Kierkegaard and Sartre (1960)

Der­ri­da: A 2002 Doc­u­men­tary on the Abstract Philoso­pher and the Every­day Man

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall.

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Comments (7)
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  • DC says:

    Rick Rod­er­ick is the king. Peri­od. The fact that so few peo­ple know his name is prob­a­bly the great­est tragedy in the last cen­tu­ry of phi­los­o­phy.

  • Jason The Obscure says:

    The Amer­i­can focus on being king in many areas, includ­ing unfor­tu­nate­ly, The Breed­ing Ground for the un-exam­ined life results in mem­bers of the cul­ture, like Rod­er­ick, remain­ing unknown, as opposed to say, Paris Hilton, Rush Lim­baugh, and oth­er social swill.

  • Jim says:

    his lec­tures bring the sub­ject mat­ter alive. A bril­liant speak­er and very addic­tive. Love the youtube videos so much and my life would be a lit­tle bit worse with­out them…

  • Jim says:

    I believe Rod­er­ick­’s last video in the “Self under siege” on Bau­drillard is the best descrip­tion of post-mod­ernism I have ever heard. Most peo­ple con­fuse post-mod­ernism with decon­struc­tion, Rick does not.

  • michael olson says:

    I stum­bled on Rick Rod­er­ick while look­ing for infor­ma­tion on Søren Kierkegaard and I lis­tened to Rod­er­ick and was fas­ci­nat­ed. His cri­tique of post mod­ern life and the authors who wrote about it alive and rel­e­vant. Thought the lec­tures were avail­able on UTube, I want­ed a copy of my own and searched the net and found few. When I want to review a mod­ern writer I turn to his lec­tures to make them rel­e­vant. No one should miss the lec­tures who are inter­est­ed in Phi­los­o­phy, mod­ern and post­mod­ern, and the writ­ers who are part of that his­to­ry.

  • Ted Buila says:

    If any of you are teach­ing, need (as opposed to look­ing) a ‘learn­ing break’ in your subject/wake up stu­dent-list­ners, download/put on one of his tapes/vids you won’t dis­ap­point­ed.

  • J Miller says:

    I admire Rick Rod­er­ick as one of the most bril­liant minds of our time or any time in human his­to­ry. To think he was to be found in West Texas just shows that gem­stones are formed in unlike­ly and bar­ren look­ing places.

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