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Philosophy Through Film (PH9GB)

We sometimes admire cinematic works for their philosophical value but what does it mean for a film to be philosophical? What role, if any, can a film such as Blade Runner, (directed by Ridley Scott), or Into the Abyss, (directed by Werner Herzog), play in philosophical inquiry? Can it provide useful examples, thought experiments or even deliver a philosophical argument? Or does it merely offer us representations of concrete particulars that are of limited philosophical value?

The aim of this module is to investigate to what extent, if any, philosophy can be done through the medium of film. In doing so, we will reflect on the nature of philosophy and whether this is necessarily bound to a linguistic medium; can presentation of audio-visual do philosophy? The module will also cover the important related debates concerning to what extent the aesthetics of a work contribute to the promotion of philosophical reflection, and whether our attempts to work out a film's philosophical meaning conflicts with the goal of appreciating its value as a work of art. Alongside these theoretical concerns regarding the philosophical value of film, the module will also explore the philosophical themes of the works studied, which will be used as the focus of the theoretical debates covered on the course.

For an introduction to the debate, listen to Stephen Mulhall on Philosophy Bites: http://philosophybites.com/2008/02/stephen-mulhall.html

Phil Through Film


Module Director:

Karen Simecek