He who thinks great thoughts

Now that classes have ended it’s time to return to my research with renewed force. To prepare my brain for the delightful onslaught of knowledge, I watched some documentaries about modern philosophy and modern philosophers. Renewing creative force via distracted absorption is advice directly taken from my Inspiration and Authorship lecture. These films remind me why I care about the intellectual’s life, and why I choose to function this way in the world.

He who thinks great thoughts often makes great errors.

The quote above is Martin Heidegger, and begins a 1999 BBC documentary, Heidegger: Thinking the Unthinkable, which is part of the series Human All Too Human, itself the title of one of Nietzsche’s texts. The film is slow-paced but insightful, the quote above presented as a partial apology for the fact that this great thinker was a Nazi. I try to block that out when enjoying his work, but it’s ever-present. The film can be seen on Google video.

Astra Taylor’s documentary Examined Life (ZeitgeistFilms, 2009) is a set of short conversations with renowned contemporary philosophers who explain either the kernel of their work or reflect on some critical question of our age. My favorite thing about this film is that Taylor decided to interview each philosopher while he or she walks or moves through space. In the New York Times’ article about Examined Life (“Thinkers in Transit, Philosophy in Motion,” Feb 20, 2009), Taylor mentions this idea came to her after reading Wanderlust, a ‘discursive’ look at the history of walking, by Rebecca Solnit. I’ll have to check that out. The notion that motion changes an individual, liberates them, is an intriguing one. As a source of inspiration, Examined Life delivers. I had to pause it several times to jot down incoming thoughts. Here’s the trailer.