Another Game of Thrones IA

DAARIO: Everyone has a choice. Even slaves have a choice. Death or slavery.

DAENERYS: So what else can I do?

DAARIO: Marry me instead.

DAENERYS: Even if I wanted to do such an inadviseable thing, I couldn’t.

DAARIO: Why not? You’re our queen, you can do as you like.

DAENERYS: No. I can’t

DAARIO: Then you are the only person in Mereen who’s not free.

The Devil Wears Prada


This stuff’? Oh, ok. I see, you think this has nothing to do with you. You go to your closet and you select out, oh I don’t know, that lumpy blue sweater, for instance, because you’re trying to tell the world that you take yourself too seriously to care about what you put on your back. But what you don’t know is that that sweater is not just blue, it’s not turquoise, it’s not lapis, it’s actually cerulean. You’re also blindly unaware of the fact that in 2002, Oscar de la Renta did a collection of cerulean gowns. And then I think it was Yves St Laurent, wasn’t it, who showed cerulean military jackets? And then cerulean quickly showed up in the collections of eight different designers. Then it filtered down through the department stores and then trickled on down into some tragic “casual corner” where you, no doubt, fished it out of some clearance bin. However, that blue represents millions of dollars and countless jobs and so it’s sort of comical how you think that you’ve made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry when, in fact, you’re wearing the sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room. From a pile of “stuff.”

Meryl Streep as Miranda Priestly in David Frankel’s The Devil Wears Prada.

Reddington the extistentialist…

It was hard to watch the first season of NBC’s Blacklist without a couple of quotations from character Raymond Reddington staying in my mind.

Lizzy, there’s something I want you to understand about your father Sam.
That night when he took you in– without hesitation– Sam made a difficult choice that changed the course of his life.
And that’s where you find yourself now.
You can turn away and run from it.
You can hide from it.
And if you choose to do that, I’ll fly away.
Or you can face it and confront it engage it.
And maybe– maybe you prevail and rise above it.

Without ‘dumbing down’ existentialism, or even claiming that there is really one philosophical school with this name, it is clear that choice (and the difficulties that go along with it) is one of the themes that would have to be present for us to think of something as existentialist.

I always explain to my students that it is perfectly possible to be a religious existentialist – indeed if you can accept a more naturalistic reading of Nietzsche it starts to look as though existentialism has a deeply religious character.

Jean-Paul Sartre, however, was very much an atheistic existentialist. For him, it was the very ‘death of God’ that left us with a feeling he called abandonment, there are no objective rules to live by for we are not designed by any supreme being. There is no design for humans, so the very best we can do is choose the criteria we will choose by and not hide from the fact that we are doing so… This sounds strange but, according to Sartre, the majority of people live in a satate of consistently ans almost convincingly lying to themselves that this is the way thgs are. Sartre calls this mauvaise foi or ‘bad faith’. In episode 3, Red shots a verging on innocent IT guy saying only:

I believe I will always do whatever I feel I have to do to keep you alive.

Not all of Reddington’s statements fit with everything Sartre said for the latter believed that the ‘first few chapters’ never determine what someone will be, though he would completely agree that the end of the final chapter of our lives is the only time one can say that we have any concrete or fixed essence. For more, read what I have written about ‘Sartre on Nothingness’.

religion and intellience…

two ways of looking at things in True Detective

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so much going on here that I don’t have time to write about it all yet… but coming soon… watch the whole series – it is amazing!

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The Art of the Brick by Nathan Sawaya

I used ‘Yellow’ by Nathan Sawaya as an IB Philosophy Core Theme Paper 1 exam Stimulus a couple of years ago. I didn’t know a great deal about him but having watched the short video on youtube, I’m more convinced that his work would be an excellent thing to discuss in ib philosophy as well as in ToK (Theory of Knowledge).


You could talk about the relationship between maths and art in ToK, and even discuss topics like determinism and Sartre’s understanding of nothingness in the ‘What makes is ‘us’?’ section of the course. Awesome.

Social Contracts in Game of Thrones

That’s because she understands the way things are…. People work together when it suits them, they’re loyal when it suits them, love each other when it suits them and they kill each other when it suits them… She knows it. You don’t.

Awesome for an internal assessment… watch this whole episode for a fairly convincing exposition of social contract theory.

Click here to see on youtube…

Davos’ advice to Stannis in ‘Game of Thrones’

“You could have freed me yesterday, or tomorrow. I think you came to me now before this boy is put to the knife because you knew I’d counsel restraint. You came to hear me say it because you believe it yourself. You’re not a man who slaughters innocents for gain or glory.”

For those of you that have read Sartre’s Existentialism & Humanism (click below for this section) this advice may sound very similar to something Sartre wrote in refutation of traditional normative ethics. Sarte’s point was that all action originates in freedom, even if that freedom is used to convence oneself that on is not free. We’ll talk about it in class, but this could be a great IA stimulus…

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American Beauty

To my shame I only watched this recently and it was, in my humble opinion, a quite brilliant picture. Each of the main characters would be more than sufficient for an Internal Assessment or even an Extended Essay in IB philosophy.

Where to start though…? Again, this is the sort of film that will draw one’s own philosophical persuasions to the surface, but I would expect that most philosophically literate members of the audience will be prodded into reflecting upon existentialism. Perhaps because of my own areas of particular interest, I found myself thinking about the relationship between Sartre and Kierkegaard. Kevin Spacey’s character undergoes a change. He realises he is free to do what he chooses and he begins a journey towards living authentically. Despite initial impressions, there is also an ethical dimension to this change; this is most noticable when he decides not to sleep with his daughter’s friend. This authenticity is placed in stark contrast with the Colonel, who moves in across the street. He is clearly deeply unhappy and (partly due to his belief in the Divine) is an emblem of the inauthentic life – lying to himself about even his own sexuality.

There are also a number of characters living by systems, or what Kiekegaaard would have called ‘ethical frameworks’. These people spend every part of their energy trying to realise a self-created goal. This, as the Dane points out, is a project doomed to failure: either one realises the goals and find this unsatisfactory (causing despair) or spends a whole life struggling and never reaching (equally as bad). Anyway before I feel myself being drawn into my own essay I will stop. Watch it.

Richard Linklater’s ‘Waking Dead’

Okay, so perhaps this is slightly out of place on this blog as I’m not sure how many non-philosophers would persevere with it. On the other hand, the viewer is addressed by real life philosophers in a medium that is accesible to most, so I guess it’s okay… We’ll be watching this in class at some point…

Click below for discussion questions: