Robert Solomon Dead at 64

Today I was saddened to learn about the sudden death of philosopher and teacher Robert Solomon. He will be missed by many. Please watch this great clip of Solomon from the movie Waking Life.

In his book “Spirituality for the Skeptic,” Solomon wrote the following about appreciating life:

“Gratitude, I want to suggest, is not only the best answer to the tragedies of life. It is the best approach to life itself. This is not to say, as I keep insisting, an excuse for quietism or resignation. It is no reason to see ourselves simply as passive recipients and not as active participants full of responsibilities. On the contrary, as Kant and Nietzsche among many others insisted, being born with talents and having opportunities imposes a heavy duty on us, to exercise those talents and make good use of those opportunities. It is also odd and unfortunate that we take the blessings of life for granted — or insist that we deserve them — but then take special offense at the bad things in life, as if we could not possibly deserve those. The proper recognition of tragedy and the tragic sense of life is not shaking one’s fist at the gods or the universe “in scorn and defiance” but rather, as Kierkegaard writes in a religious context, “going down one one’s knees” and giving thanks. Whether or not there is a God or there are gods to be thanked, however, seems not the issue to me. It is the importance and the significance of being thankful, to whomever or whatever, for life itself.”

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4 responses to “Robert Solomon Dead at 64

  1. An interesting chap was Robert Solomon. I’m not big on existentialism; I find the existentialists a little wishy-washy, extremely vague–the usual criticisms. Listening to Solomon lecture on existentialism, however, is fascinating. What Sartre and the gang lack in clarity Solomon makes up for. I highly recommend to anyone interested in philosophy–even more so psychology–is Solomon’s work on emotions. He advanced a theory of emotions as strategies. Emotions, Solomon contends, don’t “happen to us,” but rather they are something that we do. He makes a strong case. Solomon was a lucid writer, and an even better lecturer. It’s a shame he died so young.

  2. Beautifully said, Jay.

  3. I am so sad to read about his death. I loved his lectures and I was looking for the new editions of his lectures to be published in the future by the teaching company.
    So sorry to hear it.

  4. I find Jay’s criticism of the existentialists a little wishy-washy, extremely vague.

    Come on Jay, Existentialism would have to be the least ‘wishy-washy’ of philosophies. Have you not read Nietzsche or Kierkegaard? Their passion and vitality is infectious.

    As for vagueness – well, Existentialism won’t tell you exactly what to do like some nice papacy. You can consider ultimate reliance on yourself as a strength or weakness.

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