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Philosophy Through Film

Can we do philosophy by going to the movies? Philosophical inquiry and philosophical reflection are ordinarily done by using words to articulate claims and form arguments. Cinematic works are sometimes thought to have great philosophical value, yet they are strongly visual rather than verbal works. So what does it mean for a film to be philosophical? In what way, if any, can a film such as Blade Runner, Inception or the Hunger Games play a useful role in philosophy? Can films provide useful examples, thought experiments or even deliver a fully-fledged philosophical argument? The aim of this module is to introduce you to key philosophical ideas relating to film, in particular, to explore whether philosophy can be done through the medium of film.

We will consider a range of issues such as whether there is a significant difference between fiction films and documentary films in terms of their ability to offer philosophical thought. The module will also cover 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 cinematic works studied. This module is assessed by essay and a short video-presentation, which gives you the chance to compare doing philosophy through these different forms.

inception
Module Director

Karen Simecek

Timing and CATS

This module is worth 15 CATS and run throughout the Spring term of the 2016/17 academic year.