Friday 30 October 2009

out of time

You don't expect Radio 4's In Our Time to end on a cliffhanger, but this week's discussion about Schopenhauer (left) closed with an ending that wouldn't have shamed EastEnders.

There had been terrific commentary on Schopenhauer's use of Eastern philosophy, his views on desire and boredom, the role of art - and music in particular, and his modern attitude towards the treatment of animals.

Melvyn Bragg went on to ask Béatrice Han-Pile, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Essex, about Schopenhauer's influence on Hardy, Lawrence and Camus. Her reply concentrated on Camus:

He took two ideas from Schopenhauer. One is that ultimately life is meaningless and the other is that we are doomed to suffer. And he put that in what he called 'the paradox of the absurd', namely on the one hand we are bound to look for meaning in our lives, that's just what we do, and on the other hand, if we take a cold hard look at the universe, then we see there's no ultimate meaning there. And -

Just as we reached that 'and' - 42 minutes into the programme - when this very lucid professsor looked as if she was on the verge of reconciling two of the biggest ideas going, Bragg suddenly glanced at the clock:

I'm sorry. My fault. I've completely messed up the timing. Thank you.

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