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The Ontology of Film is a middle category home to work on the nature of film. The question, What is film? has received fairly little attention. There is some controversy about what should fall under the category, but more agree that 'film' applies to far more than celluloid. Philosophers have been more concerned with aspects of film. Three question structure much of the discussion: (1) Do mainstream movies have authors? Or more specifically, is it appropriate to call a single person, or some very small group of people, the author of a mainstream movie? (2) Must narrative films have fictional narrators? Must we attribute the narration to a narrator who is part of the world of the fiction?  (3) Do film images really move, or is the impression of movement an illusion?

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  1. 延伸与反思:基于电影感知研究的中国电影研究新思路Extension and Reflection: Film Perception and Cognition study as A New Approach for Chinese Film Research.Lingfei Luan - forthcoming - Film Art.
    Film perception and cognition research, as interdisciplinary research lags behind the curve on issues, methods, and trends found important by its adjacent disciplines, such as film, communication, and psychology. It provides a scientific perspective for exploring the fundamental analysis issues to evaluate the film’s endogenous structure and exogenous power in the audience. It will mount the position of Chinese film research around the world by integrating the multidisciplinary theories and practice. 对目前中国电影研究学科性反思的提出,不仅是一种学术研究的重新审视,也是面临世界电影格局重组的根本应对策略。面对经济和文化等方面的冲击,中国电影研究需要顺应发展趋势:从传统的理论性研究汇入创作实践与理论 体系交融的大方向,从单一的学科研究转向到跨学科的探索。电影感知研究正是解决电影跨学科问题的最佳研究方法,它将传统电影研究与其他学科的现实经验相结合,可以从根本上推进中国电影研究以及实践在世界电影产业舞 台上的位置。.
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  2. Towards a Science of Emerging Media.Barry Smith - 2015 - In J. E. Katz & J. Floyd (eds.), Philosophy of Emerging Media: Understanding, Appreciation and Application. Oxford University Press. pp. 29-48.
    If media studies are to become established as a genuine science, then it needs to be determined what the subject matter of this science is to be. I propose a specification of this subject matter as consisting in: 1. the new sorts of digital entities that have been added to social reality through the invention of the digital computer, and 2. the new sorts of interactions involving human beings which such entities make possible. I support this proposal by examining examples (...)
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  3. Repeatable Artwork Sentences and Generics.Shieva Kleinschmidt & Jacob Ross - 2013 - In Christy Mag Uidhir (ed.), Art and Abstract Objects. Oxford University Press. pp. 125.
    We seem to talk about repeatable artworks, like symphonies, films, and novels, all the time. We say things like, "The Moonlight Sonata has three movements" and "Duck Soup makes me laugh". How are these sentences to be understood? We argue against the simple subject/predicate view, on which the subjects of the sentences refer to individuals and the sentences are true iff the referents of the subjects have the properties picked out by the predicates. We then consider two alternative responses that (...)
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Film Authorship
  1. Mechanical Recording In Arnheim’s Film As Art.Yvan Tétreault - 2008 - Postgraduate Journal of Aesthetics 5 (1):16-26.
    In his classic Film as Art, Rudolf Arnheim sets out to refute the claim that “Film cannot be art, for it does nothing but reproduce reality mechanically”.1 The usual argument in favor of that claim, he explains, contrasts film with realist painting, and goes something like this: There’s no doubt that what appears on the canvas depends on the way the painter sees the world, on her particular technique, on the colors she’s using, and so on. It is elements like (...)
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  2. Minimal Authorship (of Sorts).Christy Mag Uidhir - 2011 - Philosophical Studies 154 (3):373 - 387.
    I propose a minimal account of authorship that specifies the fundamental nature of the author-relation and its minimal domain composition in terms of a three-place causal-intentional relation holding between agents and sort-relative works. I contrast my account with the minimal account tacitly held by most authorship theories, which is a two-place relation holding between agents and works simpliciter. I claim that only my view can ground productive and informative principled distincitons between collective production and collective authorship.
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  3. On Authorship and Collaboration.Paisley Nathan Livingston - 2011 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 69 (2):221-225.
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  4. Collective Authorship in Film.C. Paul Sellors - 2007 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 65 (3):263–271.
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Narration in Film
  1. Le Grand Imagier Steps Out: The Primitive Basis of Film Narration.George M. Wilson - 1997 - Philosophical Topics 25 (1):295-318.
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  2. Fictional Indeterminacy, Imagined Seeing, and Cinematic Narration.Angela Curran - 2016 - In Katherine Thomson-Jones (ed.), Current Controversies in the Philosophy of Film. Routledge. pp. 99-114.
    This paper focuses on the debate over two central claims regarding cinematic narration: the claim that there are implicit cinematic narrators and the thesis that when we watch movies, we imagine seeing the events and characters in the film fiction. I examine what a consideration of the indeterminate nature of fictional narration, that is, what is specified by the fiction about how we come to imagine the story events, can contribute to the debate on these issues. It is argued that (...)
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  3. Narrative Manipulation and Documentary Truth: Putting the Move on Audiences in Hoop Dreams.John Arthos - forthcoming - Film and Philosophy.
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  4. Film Music and Narrative Agency.Jerrold Levinson - 1996 - In David Bordwell Noel Carroll (ed.), Post-Theory: Reconstructing Film Studies. U Wisconsin Press.
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  5. Narration in Motion.K. J. Thomson-Jones - 2012 - British Journal of Aesthetics 52 (1):33-43.
    The moving frame of a tracking or crane shot, or of a camera tilt or pan, can affect the way we engage with a film narrative. In this paper, I argue that certain uses of the moving frame in narrative fiction film prescribe us to imagine ourselves moving through the world of the film. The existence of such an imaginative prescription ultimately threatens the necessity of the cinematic narrator. In light of the standard indeterminacy of our means of access to (...)
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  6. Narrative.Paisley Livingston - 2001 - In Berys Nigel Gaut & Dominic Lopes (eds.), The Routledge Companion to Aesthetics. Routledge.
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  7. Cinematic Narrators.Katherine Thomson-Jones - 2009 - Philosophy Compass 4 (2):296-311.
    This article surveys the current debate among analytic philosophers and film narratologists about the logic and phenomenology of cinematic narration. Particular attention is given to the question of whether every film that represents a fictional narrative also represents a narrator's fictional narration.
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  8. Unreliability Refigured: Narrative in Literature and Film.Gregory Currie - 1995 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 53 (1):19-29.
    Aims to improve an understanding of the theoretical issues in response to the influence of fiction. Four things in narrative unreliability; Relation between narration in literary fictions and film; Comprehension of narrative essentially a matter of intentional inference; Fictions misdescribed; Asymmetry between literature and film; Ambiguity and unreliability; Implied author and narrator.
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  9. The Philosophy of the Movies : Cinematic Narration.Berys Gaut - 2004 - In Peter Kivy (ed.), The Blackwell Guide to Aesthetics. Blackwell. pp. 230--253.
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  10. Against the Ubiquity of Fictional Narrators.Andrew Kania - 2005 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 63 (1):47–54.
    In this paper I argue against the theory--popular among theorists of narrative artworks--that we must posit a fictional narrative agent in every narrative artwork in order to explain our imaginative engagement with such works. I accept that every narrative must have a narrator, but I argue that in some central literary cases the narrator is not a fictional agent, but rather the actual author of the work. My criticisms focus on the strongest argument for the ubiquity of fictional narrators, Jerrold (...)
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  11. The Literary Origins of the Cinematic Narrator.Katherine Thomson-Jones - 2007 - British Journal of Aesthetics 47 (1):76-94.
    This paper reveals an ulterior motive for insisting on the necessary presence of narrators in film: the desire to fit film into a literary paradigm. Despite important theoretical links between film and literature, the assumption that films must be like novels in always having narrators is unsound. By moving beyond literature in the comparison of narrative media, and focusing specifically on cases of ‘breaking the fourth wall’ in film and theatre, we find that the presence and function of a cinematic (...)
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  12. Need There Be Implicit Narrators of Literary Fictions?Thomas E. Wartenberg - 2007 - Philosophical Studies 135 (1):89 - 94.
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Movement in Film
  1. Does the Debate About Cinematic Motion Rest on a Mistake?Rafael De Clercq - 2017 - Analysis 77 (3):519-525.
    The debate about cinematic motion revolves around the question of whether the movement of cinematic images is real. That the movement we perceive in film should be construed as the movement of images is taken for granted. But this is a mistake. There is no reason to suppose that cinematic images of moving objects are themselves perceived to be moving. All that is necessary is to perceive these images as continuously changing images of one and the same object.
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  2. The 'I' of the Beholder: On Richard Allen, Projecting Illusion: Film Spectatorship and the Impression of Reality.Karen Bardsley - 1998 - Film-Philosophy 2 (1).
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  3. Moving Pictures.Arthur C. Danto - 1979 - Quarterly Review of Film Studies 4 (1):1-21.
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  4. Motion(Less) Pictures: The Cinema of Stasis.J. Remes - 2012 - British Journal of Aesthetics 52 (3):257-270.
    While some film theorists and philosophers have seen motion as a necessary element of cinema, this view is challenged by a body of avant-garde films which offer little or no movement. These experiments—by film-makers such as Andy Warhol, Larry Gottheim, and Michael Snow—challenge essentialist definitions of film, while simultaneously foregrounding the crucial role played by duration in cinema’s ontology.
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  5. Seeing Motion and Apparent Motion.Christoph Hoerl - 2015 - European Journal of Philosophy 23 (3):676-702.
    In apparent motion experiments, participants are presented with what is in fact a succession of two brief stationary stimuli at two different locations, but they report an impression of movement. Philosophers have recently debated whether apparent motion provides evidence in favour of a particular account of the nature of temporal experience. I argue that the existing discussion in this area is premised on a mistaken view of the phenomenology of apparent motion and, as a result, the space of possible philosophical (...)
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  6. Il Rilievo Della Visione Movimento, Profondità, Cinema Ne Le Monde Sensible et Le Monde De L’Expression.Anna Caterina Dalmasso - 2010 - Chiasmi International 12:83-110.
    Le relief de la vision. Mouvement, profondeur et cinéma dansLe monde sensible et le monde de l’expressionEst-il possible d’établir une connexion entre Le monde sensible et le monde de l’expression et la pensée du dernier Merleau-Ponty? De quelle manière une formulation germinale de la réflexion ontologique serait-elle présente dans le cours de 1953? Et quels sont les éléments de contact et de convergence qui permettent de retracer un tel lien?J’ai l’intention de proposer cette hypothèse à partir d’une considération du thème (...)
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  7. Projecting Illusion: Film Spectatorship and the Impression of Reality.Richard Allen - 1995 - Cambridge University Press.
    Projecting Illusion offers a systematic analysis of the impression of reality in the cinema and the pleasure it gives to the film spectator. Film provides a compelling experience that can be considered as a form of illusion akin to the experience of day-dream and dream. Examining the concept of illusion and its relationship to fantasy in the experience of visual representation, Richard Allen situates his explanation within the context of an analytical criticism of contemporary film and critical theory. He argues (...)
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  8. The Illusion of Realism in Film.Andrew Kania - 2002 - British Journal of Aesthetics 42 (3):243-258.
    Gregory Currie, arguing against recent psychoanalytic and semiotic film theory, has defended various realist theses about film. The strongest of these is that ‘weak illusionism’—the view that the motion of film images is an illusion—is false. That is, Currie believes film images really do move. In this paper I defend the common-sense position of weak illusionism, firstly by showing that Currie underestimates the power of some arguments for it, especially one based on the mechanics of projection, and secondly by showing (...)
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  9. External Realism About Cinematic Motion.Trevor Ponech - 2006 - British Journal of Aesthetics 46 (4):349-368.
    Cinematic motion is, I argue, a genuine and intrinsic property of some cinematic works and not just a matter of how things look to us. It is an event—an item's change of position—happening prior and external to our sensory responses to movies. I therefore defend against common-sense illusionism a minority opinion within cinema studies: that movie viewing normally occasions veridical perceptions of a kind of objective displacement. I also dispute another version of anti-illusionist realism about cinematic motion, the implication that (...)
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Ontology of Film, Misc
  1. Mechanical Recording In Arnheim’s Film As Art.Yvan Tétreault - 2008 - Postgraduate Journal of Aesthetics 5 (1):16-26.
    In his classic Film as Art, Rudolf Arnheim sets out to refute the claim that “Film cannot be art, for it does nothing but reproduce reality mechanically”.1 The usual argument in favor of that claim, he explains, contrasts film with realist painting, and goes something like this: There’s no doubt that what appears on the canvas depends on the way the painter sees the world, on her particular technique, on the colors she’s using, and so on. It is elements like (...)
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  2. Instances of Cinema.Ted Nannicelli - 2017 - Projections-The Journal for Movies and Mind 11 (1):1-15.
    This article sketches a commonplace yet neglected epistemic puzzle raised by the diversity of our film-viewing practices. Because our appreciative practices allow for variability in the " instances " of cinematic works we engage, many of our experiential encounters with those works are flawed or impoverished in a number of ways. The article outlines a number of ways in which instances of cinema can vary – including, for example, in terms of color, score, and aspect ratio. This variability of instances (...)
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  3. Medium and the 'End of the Myths': Transformation of the Imagination in The World Viewed.Wack Daniel - 2013 - Conversations: A Journal of Cavellian Studies 1:43-66.
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  4. A Philosophy of the Screenplay.Ted Nannicelli - 2012 - Routledge.
    Recently, scholars in a variety of disciplines—including philosophy, film and media studies, and literary studies—have become interested in the aesthetics, definition, and ontology of the screenplay. To this end, this volume addresses the fundamental philosophical questions about the nature of the screenplay: What is a screenplay? Is the screenplay art—more specifically, literature? What kind of a thing is a screenplay? Nannicelli argues that the screenplay is a kind of artefact; as such, its boundaries are determined collectively by screenwriters, and its (...)
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  5. Quelle naturalisation de l'esthétique du cinéma ?Hugo Clemot - 2015 - Nouvelle Revue d'Esthétique 2015 (15):111-119.
    Vincent Descombes nous a offert une mise au point historique et conceptuelle qu’on peut tenir pour incontournable sur la question de la naturalisation des Humanités. Ce texte vise à restituer certains éléments de cette contribution trop souvent méconnue et à la prolonger sur la question de la naturalisation de l’esthétique du cinéma, entendue au sens large comme philosophie de l’art cinématographique et comme philosophie de l’expérience esthétique.
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  6. The Myth of Scotland as Nowhere in Particular.John Marmysz - 2014 - International Journal of Scottish Theatre and Screen 7 (1):28-44.
    In a number of recent films, Scotland has served as the setting for dramas that could have taken place anywhere. This has occurred in two related ways: First, there are films such as Perfect Sense (2011) and Under the Skin (2013). These films involve storylines that, while they do take place in Scotland, do not require the country as a setting. Second, there are films such as Prometheus (2012),The Dark Knight Rises (2012), Cloud Atlas (2012), and World War Z (2013). (...)
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  7. A New/Old Ontology of Film.Rafe McGregor - 2013 - Film-Philosophy 17 (1):265-280.
    The purpose of this paper is to examine the ontological effects of digital technology, and determine whether digital films, traditional films, and pre-traditional motion pictures belong to the same category. I begin by defining the parameters of my inquiry, and then consider the two most significant consequences of the new technology. §2 proposes a decisive refutation of the causal relationship between reality and photography. §3 identifies an end to the dominance of photorealistic film over animation, and argues for an inversion (...)
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  8. The Ontology of the Photographic Image.André Bazin - 2010 - In Marc Furstenau (ed.), The Film Theory Reader: Debates and Arguments. Routledge.
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  9. Ariadne at the Movies.John Dilworth - 2003 - Contemporary Aesthetics 1.
    ABSTRACT -/- Films are usually assumed to be types, with their templates or performances being tokens of those types. However, I give a counter-example in which two different films are simultaneously made by different directors, with the outcome of this process being a single template length of film which, I claim, embodies both of those films. But no two types could thus have a token in common, and hence type views of films must be incorrect. I further explain and defend (...)
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  10. Ariadne Revisited.John Dilworth - 2003 - Contemporary Aesthetics 1.
    ABSTRACT -/- My article, "Ariadne at the Movies," provided a detailed, double film counter-example to the claim that films are types. Here I defend my views against various criticisms provided by Aaron Smuts. The defense includes some necessary clarification of the Ariadne article's broader theoretical structure and background, as well as some additional anti-type arguments to further withstand his criticisms.
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