What is Being in the World?

Being in the World

Once upon a time there was a world full of meaning, focused by exemplary figures in the form of gods and heroes, saints and sinners. How did we lose them, or, might they still be around, in the form of modern day masters, in fields like sports, music, craft and cooking. Are these masters able to inspire us and bring back a sense of wonder, possibly even of the sacred?

Join world renowned philosopher Hubert Dreyfus, along with a generation of philosophers he inspired, as they take us on a riveting journey of ideas, tackling some of the deepest philosophical issues of our time. In this enlightening trip, we learn what is unique about human beings that allows us to take the risks necessary to learn skills, and how an appreciation of mastery can help us recover a meaningful world. Travel to New Orleans to meet the Queen of Creole Cuisine, travel to Spain to meet the legendary poet and flamenco master Manuel Molina, and enter the world of Hiroshi Sakaguchi a Japanese master craftsman.

Humans acting at their best respond faster than they can think. They converse, experience "flow", "play out of their heads", and in general are responsive and receptive to the demands of their unique situation. Masters don't deliberate and reflect, but "straight away do the appropriate thing at the appropriate time in the appropriate way." Given that spontaneous actions can reveal people at their best, why is that today people feel that, in order to act well, they must always reflect and then, like a machine, choose the most rational response?

Being in the World is a celebration of human beings, and our ability, through the mastery of physical, intellectual and creative skills, to find meaning in the world around us. This film takes us on a gripping and surprising journey around the world meeting extraordinary people, showing how we go from following rules to proficiency, to becoming masters in the form artists, craftsmen, athletes, and, ultimately, unique human beings attuned to the sacred.

An Idea Takes Hold

Tao Ruspoli graduated with a degree in philosophy from UC Berkeley in 1998. The first philosophy course he took was called "Existentialism in Literature and Filme" taught by professor Hubert Dreyfus. This course inspired Tao to become a filmmaker and he went on to take all of Dreyfus' courses, all of which had tremendous influence on him and his outlook on the world.

Ten years after graduating, Tao returned to Berkeley to revisit Dreyfus and was inspired to make Being in the World, as an attempt to bring these profound philisophical ideas to a non-academic audience. Dreyfus introduced Tao to all of his students who had now become well-known professors in their own right—from Sean Kelly at Harvard to Mark Wrathall at UC Riverside, as well as Taylor Carman, Iain Thomson, John Haugeland, and several others.

Tao and his team traveled to meet and interview each of these professors and then researched and found masters in different fields who best illustrated their ideas. This brought the team around the world where they had a chance to immerse themselves in the worlds of Japanese carpentry, Creole cooking, gypsy flamenco, and more.