Waking Life is an animated, surrealistic film about philosophy. Its plot revolves around a young man who becomes uncertain as to whether he is awake or dreaming. During the course of his ‘dream’ he bumps into numerous people who have something to say about life, reality and truth. Their fascinating and often bizarre theories provide an accessible introduction to some of the great philosophers and their ideas.
Clip 1: 09:17- 16:40 (7:23 length) [Chapter 3]
A young man, who thinks he is dreaming, finds himself sitting through a lecture on Sartre’s existentialism. He then encounters two other philosophers in sequence, one who explains the social construction of language and another who tries to elucidate a theory of transhumanism.
Clip 2: 28:15 – 36:23 (8:08 length) [Chapter 6]
This clip starts off with a man explaining why free will is a problem that confounds philosophers. He explains that if everything we do is determined in advance (whether by God or physical laws) then this brings into question whether we have any free choice at all. The next scene shows a man driving a car through empty streets with a loudhailer, delivering an eloquent and passionate rant about the value and importance of human freedom. The juxtaposition of these two scenes makes it a useful clip for discussing free will. The film then jumps to a philosopher who stresses the importance of being positive about life. This is followed another philosopher who describes an advanced state of human consciousness in which everything is perceived to be one.
Clip 3: 36:25- 37:58 (1:33 length) [Chapter 7]
Two women in a café discuss the problem of identity. If human beings are constantly changing, then how can we be sure we are the same person that existed in the past?
Clip 4: 38:00 – 39:30 (1:30 length) [Chapter 8]
A talking chimpanzee gives a discourse about the reshaping of society and how ‘anything is possible’, while images flash across a movie screen.
Clip 5: 1:03:47 – 1:05:10 (1:23 length) [Chapter 14]
Two strangers pass each on the street. But instead of carrying on as normal, one of them turns the encounter into what D.H. Lawrence called a ‘confrontation between souls’.