Intellectual Curiosities and Provocations

Philosophy Weekend: Two Videos

By Levi Asher on Wednesday, March 20, 2013 11:04 pm

I've just learned that Trey Parker and Matt Stone of South Park/Book of Mormon fame have been animating some passages from seminal Western Buddhist author Alan Watts. The videos are excellent! Here's Music and Life, with a message well worth hearing:

I was also intrigued to read in Galley Cat about a new video series called "Explain Like I'm Five", which shows five year olds reacting to various lessons. Here, two adults try to explain the moral philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche to a group of kids.

The grown-ups do a pretty good job of representing our favorite manic German existentialist to these kids, and really try hard to win the group over. Then something very funny happens. Having grasped a simple description of Nietzsche's concept of ethics, one of the kids sums up his feelings: "I HATE NIETZSCHE". The kid then fantasizes about beating up Nietzsche in the street, and the rest of the kids happily pile on.

Notably, it's not that the kids hate learning about Nietzsche. They're happy to learn about him; it's his philosophy that they hate. There's some kind of cataclysmic basic truth being revealed by the innocent reaction of these children. I wonder what Friedrich Nietzsche would say. I wonder what Alan Watts would say.


This article is part of the Philosophy Weekend series. The next post in the series is Philosophy Weekend: Heidegger on Art. The previous post in the series is Philosophy Weekend: Stuck In An Elevator With Rand Paul and John McCain.


2 Responses to "Philosophy Weekend: Two Videos"

by Wojciech on

Never heard of either of these projects...what a pleasant surprise!

As far as the children's reactions, I expected exacly the opposite. Somehow I don't understand how any sane kid woud disaprove of the philosophy where you could do whatever you want, and in choosing to do whatever you want, you are a kind of superman.

Also interesting, how these kids have been programmed (for lack of a better term). They don't necessarily understand why their parents have a rule about cleaning up your room, or why you don't just take away a toy from another person, but they seem to know that there is a reason for these rules. Even if they can't explain why, they seem to yield their judgement to whoever is older than them. Is this a microcosm of all children? Are these few kids represenative of the larger group of youth in the world?

I like the idea of teachng Nietzsche to children, if for no other reason than to give them a larger platform to question authority.

by TKG on

Wow! I never knew Nietzsche was the Monopoly Man's brother. 

http://ocbiz.ocregister.com/files/2009/05/monopoly-man.jpg

Alan Watts is a good speaker with a nice voice and demeanor.  I remember reading his little acid trip book the Joyous Cosmology.  He reminds me of this:

"The American public is something I fly over" -- James Aubrey, early 60's Network TV executive

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