Markus Gabriel’s speech “Why the World Does Not Exist” was made in the context of the famous TEDxTalks series, which includes various innovators, inspirational figures and other experts in specific areas. Markus Gabriel himself is a philosopher and a university professor at the University of Bonn in Germany. In his speech, Gabriel tells the audience about his philosophical theory, which as the title indicates, means that there is no such thing as the “world.” But Gabriel does not mean that there is not some world of physical objects where we live. Rather, he tells us in his speech that there is not one world that contains everything that we know or think. Rather, we cannot say everything is merely physical, because we have imaginary objects, such as unicorns and other fictional characters which are real to us on some level.
The talk card which the speaker Markus Gabriel is using in his speech is that of the expert. Markus Gabriel is a professional philosopher, but because he is talking at TEDxTalks, he is not talking to his peers like at an academic conference. Therefore, he is an expert, introducing the audience to his own specific philosophical theory and other greater philosophical questions. At the same time, he is also playing the teacher card. Speaking to an amateur audience, he guides us through a very difficult series of concepts and ideas through the teacher card. Judging by the topic of the speech, these are the only talk cards Gabriel could have played. This is because he is dealing with difficult subject matter for an audience which does not know this topic. By using these talk cards, he firstly convinces us of his authenticity as a speaker and then informs us about the complex world of philosophical problems and theories.
In one way, judging by the title of the speech, it seems that Gabriel’s aim was to introduce the audience to his own theory. He wants to explain his basic claims and the logic behind them. But I think there is another goal in his presentation and that is to introduce the audience to how philosophers think about problems and what they consider to be important. I think the audience therefore has the same goals as the speaker which makes the speaker effective. They wish to learn about philosophical problems and about new ways of looking at the world. This was also my reason for selecting this same speech, and Gabriel shows us how experts and teachers both think and guide us through subject matter.
The reciprocal talk card which the speaker was trying to invoke in the audience was therefore the student card. He presented his theory as something new to the students. He also used many references to philosophical problems and questions that experts know about. Gabriel used a very straightforward professional, although didactic style. This was an effective approach when considering the context. Once again, the TEDxTalk conference is not an academic meeting between philosophers. Gabriel had to consider his audience and make his discourse easily understandable and relatable. If he had been talking to his peers, he would have used a different tone, since he would be among his fellow experts and could not play the expert card.
Nevertheless, because Gabriel also used the teacher card, he did not come across as a professional talking down to his audience. He wanted to introduce us to his own theory and key philosophical issues. He wanted to inspire in his audience an interest in philosophy itself. With his creative, informative and instructive speech and use of talk cards, Gabriel succeeded to create an engaging speech.