Nietzsche, Wittgenstein & Sartre Explained with Monty Python-Style Animations by The School of Life

Angst. Nau­sea. Selb­stüber­win­dung. All, sure­ly, words we’ve used before, but have we paid atten­tion to their prop­er philo­soph­i­cal con­texts? The well-known and wide­ly-read philoso­phers Lud­wig Wittgen­stein, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Friedrich Niet­zsche used those words and oth­ers in very spe­cif­ic ways to express con­cepts essen­tial to their cer­tain­ly eccen­tric but even more cer­tain­ly impor­tant philo­soph­i­cal writ­ings. These brief, Alain de Bot­ton-nar­rat­ed video primers from The School of Life’s series on phi­los­o­phy will get you start­ed on com­ing to grips with just what these 19th- and 20th-cen­tu­ry thinkers had to tell us about our own lives.

The new video on Wittgen­stein con­cen­trates on its sub­jec­t’s life­long grap­pling with the prob­lems of lin­guis­tic com­mu­ni­ca­tion, from his first con­clu­sion that “lan­guage works by trig­ger­ing with­in us pic­tures of how things are in the world” to his sec­ond that “lan­guage is like a kind of tool that we use to play dif­fer­ent ‘games.’ ” The video on Sartre deals with the exis­ten­tial­ist’s con­tentions that “things are weird­er than we think,” that “we are free,” that “we should­n’t live in bad faith,” and that “we are free to dis­man­tle cap­i­tal­ism.” The video on Niet­zsche explains just what it means to become an Über­men­sch — a goal achiev­able, for exam­ple, by using your capac­i­ty for selb­stüber­win­dung to over­come your sklaven­moral.

Though watch­ing these philo­soph­ic primers might well make you ever so slight­ly con­ver­sant in Wittgen­stein, Sartre, and Niet­zsche, The School of Life has clear­ly craft­ed them (using goofy cut-up visu­als and a healthy rate of quips per minute) pri­mar­i­ly as an enter­tain­ing means of whet­ting your intel­lec­tu­al appetite. If you’d like to know more about these mod­ern philoso­phers, have a look at our links to oth­er relat­ed posts below. And if you’d like to go broad­er before you go deep­er, do watch the rest of the series, which will get you start­ed on every­one from Aris­to­tle and the Sto­ics to La Rochefou­cauld and Hei­deg­ger.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

140 Free Online Phi­los­o­phy Cours­es 

135 Free Phi­los­o­phy eBooks

Human, All Too Human: 3‑Part Doc­u­men­tary Pro­files Niet­zsche, Hei­deg­ger & Sartre

A Guide to Hap­pi­ness: Alain de Bot­ton Shows How Six Great Philoso­phers Can Change Your Life

Down­load Wal­ter Kaufmann’s Lec­tures on Niet­zsche, Kierkegaard, Sartre & Mod­ern Thought (1960)

Bertrand Rus­sell on His Stu­dent Lud­wig Wittgen­stein: Man of Genius or Mere­ly an Eccen­tric?

Lud­wig Wittgenstein’s Trac­ta­tus Gets Adapt­ed Into an Avant-Garde Com­ic Opera

Col­in Mar­shall writes on cities, lan­guage, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer, and the video series The City in Cin­e­maFol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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  • Tosia McCormick says:

    I have always avoid­ed phi­los­o­phy think­ing it was obscure and con­fus­ing. I love these videos for mak­ing some fas­ci­nat­ing ideas so acces­si­ble. Thank you!

  • Gustavo says:

    A great way to call atten­tion to tra­di­tion­al Phi­los­o­phy’s prob­lems. This could serve as an opened and imag­i­na­tive gate to a more pro­found look. Cool!

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