BY: Robin Koerner, Host
PUBLISHED: October 31, 2015
The Individual Has a Right to Live in a Way that is Self-DirectedToday on The Blue Republican, Robin introduces William Irwin to discuss his new book, “The Free Market Existentialist – Capitalism without Consumerism” seeks to put that right. Even today, within academia, existentialists (and indeed most academic philosophers) are of the political Left. Irwin’s new book, “The Free Market Existentialist – Capitalism without Consumerism” seeks to put that right. Existentialism has been most concerned with consumerism – identifying it as a natural consequence of capitalism – and a basic human sense of alienation, which it also claims is exacerbated by capitalism. This alienation refers to the fact that we can never really know or understand someone else as they are – but only as crude, objectified approximations.
Irwin discusses his commitment to free-markets and political freedom (as opposed to socialism) and grounds those in existentialism, rather than at odds with it, and in so doing advocates for the ability of the individual to choose to live in a way that is self-directed rather than directed by injudicious consumption and the falsely felt need to “keep up with the Joneses”
About William Irwin
William Irwin is the Chair of Philosophy at King’s College, Pennsylvania. Prof. Irwin has for a long time been an existentialist. Existentialism is a philosophy, he explains, that observes that humans are radically free and must make their own decisions and even meaning. Yet, perhaps surprisingly, the famous existentialists, such as Sartre and Camu, were self-avowed socialists – whereas capitalism or libertarianism would have been a much more natural political philosophy to build on the existentialist account of human nature.
Irwin advocates libertarianism and free markets on an existentialist basis. We discuss the inconsistencies of existentialists at length and ponder whether the philosophy is so distorted by its adherents who are more a product of their political sub-culture than of solid intellectual honesty.