by Max Vos
Philosophy – doesn’t that feel out of reach? If you’re not privy to the origins of philosophy it can be hard to get into, and even harder to know where to start. Philosophy as a subject has consistently been attributed to wise old men who lived in centuries passed, writing with an ink flourish on yellowed parchment by candlelight. We think of long beards and monocles, we think of hours poring over difficult and foreign dialogue and we probably think nothing of everyday-looking “performance philosophers” like Jason Silva. Nowadays philosophy takes a new turn talking about the same things, but in an entirely different way.
Jason Silva is a self-proclaimed futurist and “techno-optimist”, here meaning he believes passionately in the technological advancement of the human race and the expansion of our perceptions of reality. To get an idea of his faith in technology, watch Technium – it’s well worth it.
Jason Silva, in collaboration with TestTube, created a YouTube channel called “Shots of Awe“, specifically for allowing the ease of consumption of colossal philosophical ideas. These ideas include trying to understand humanity, mortality, love, technology, imagination, and the limits of our creative capacity as human beings.
Jason has traversed the globe shooting the videos, which take the form of magnificent stream-of-consciousness vlogs. The main idea being, he is able to bring philosophy to the masses. With over 13 million views on Shots Of Awe’s YouTube and 700,000 likes on his facebook, Silva certainly reaches far and wide with his incredible content.
One of Silva’s first videos on Shots of Awe is called “Awe”, and in it he says “we fit the universe through our brains and it comes out in the form of nothing less than poetry. We have a responsibility to awe.” The statement alone summarises his mission for the series – it’s a series of brimming with fervour and dedication we rarely see.
When watching his videos, it’s difficult to not be swept away by his passion for his work. He consistently runs out of breath while on an inspirational verbal crusade, and the way he moves in the videos is a testament to his imaginative fire.
A video posted to Facebook of his went viral back in 2015, with 50 million views. In the video, Jason is discussing existence and creation with an infant, and even though the kid might have absolutely no clue what Jason is saying, it is still very clearly astonished with his verbal vigour – “What is this actual piece of divine miracle that somehow this universe allowed to organise? It’s insane – looking into your eyes actually feels like looking into a galaxy” he says.
The ways in which we consume philosophy has changed now. Books aren’t the only way to access complex thoughts, even video games are becoming more and more philosophical in their messages and purposes (Soma for example). Now people can view easily-digestible content, and spend hours of questioning later. In under forty seconds we see awe in an infant.
So what is the importance of getting philosophy to the masses? Why bother? That’s another philosophical question that only philosophy itself can answer. Is it important that humanity as a global entity begins contemplating things like mortality? Do we need to question love, and heartache? Do we need to experience awe? Do we need to put our faith in technology, and can we maintain faith in religion? Where does religion come from? Can it survive? Do these questions affect change if we can’t come up with answers? Does the process bring together minds and change the structure of our culture?
There’s a million ways to find out.