Philosophy of Film

Edited by Aaron Smuts (Rhode Island College)
About this topic
Summary

"Philosophy of Film" is often used to describe a few different kinds of work. Two are most important. We should distinguish between philosophy in or through film, and the philosophy of or about film. When one does philosophy through film, one seeks to either illuminate some philosophical idea or to make progress on some philosophical issue through a discussion of a movie. One might even attribute the philosophical work to the film. We might call this philosophy in film. In contrast, the philosophy of film is the philosophy about film.  It asks about the nature of film, our experience of it, how it works its magic on us, and what limitations it might have. The analytic philosophy of film is principally issue driven. One of the issues concerns the philosophical limits of film, whether philosophy in film is possible. This mid-level category is home to both kinds of work, philosophy through film and the philosophy of film.

Key works

Carroll's Philosophy of Motion Pictures and Gaut's A Philosophy of Cinematic Art are two leading monographs offering opposing views on a wide range of issue in the analytic philosophy of film.

Introductions

Livingston and Plantinga's Routledge Companion to Philosophy and Film is by far the best source for survey articles on topics and figures in the area. Thomson-Jones's Aesthetics and Film provides a clear, brief introduction to several important topics in the area.

Related categories

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  1. Ethics, Gender and Vulnerability in the Films of Mia Hansen-Løve.Kate Ince - 2020 - Film-Philosophy 24 (2):104-121.
    This article introduces some contemporary philosophical approaches to vulnerability including that of Judith Butler, while focusing on feminist legal theorist Martha Albertson Fineman's concept of the vulnerable subject, developed out of Fineman's earlier critiques of the autonomous, self-sufficient subject of liberal political philosophy. It then looks closely at the different forms of vulnerability exhibited by the leading protagonists of Mia Hansen-Løve's All Is Forgiven, Father of My Children, Goodbye First Love, Eden and Maya, all of whom except one are men, (...)
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  2. Bad Faith in Film Spectatorship.William Pamerleau - 2020 - Film-Philosophy 24 (2):122-139.
    This article seeks to develop an under-appreciated aspect of spectator activity: the way in which viewers make use of film to enter or sustain a project of bad faith. Based on Jean-Paul Sartre's account of bad faith in Being and Nothingness, the article explains the aspects of bad faith that are pertinent to viewer activity, then explores the way viewers can make use of filmic depictions to facilitate self-denial. For example, spectators may emphasize the fact that persons are depicted in (...)
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  3. Love's Revival: Film Practice and the Art of Dying.Michele Aaron - 2020 - Film-Philosophy 24 (2):83-103.
    Dying serves so often within the narratives of Western popular culture, as an exercise in self-improvement both to the individual dying and to those looking on. It enlightens, ennobles and renders exceptional all those affected by it. Though mainstream cinema's “grammar of dying” is mired in similar myths, film has the potential to do dying differently: it can, instead, connect us, ethically, to the vulnerability of others. The aim of this article is to pursue this potential of film. Using the (...)
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  4. Ben Tyrer (2016) Out of the Past: Lacan and Film Noir.Daniel Clarke - 2020 - Film-Philosophy 24 (2):254-257.
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  5. Agnieszka Piotrowska (2019) The Nasty Woman and the Neo Femme Fatale in Contemporary Cinema.Mary Harrod - 2020 - Film-Philosophy 24 (2):250-253.
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  6. Empty Time as Traumatic Duration: Towards a Cinematic Aevum.Kelli Fuery - 2020 - Film-Philosophy 24 (2):204-221.
    Frank Kermode uses the term aevum to question the links between origin, order, and time, associating experience with spatial form. Without end or beginning, aevum identifies an intersubjective order of time where we participate in the “relation between the fictions by which we order our world and the increasing complexity of what we take to be the ‘real’ history of that world”; being “in-between” time is a primary quality of the aevum. Regarding cinema, aevum identifies this third duration as emotional (...)
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  7. Aesthetic Puzzlements: Jonas Mekas's Diary Films and Ludwig Wittgenstein.Ieva Jasinskaite - 2020 - Film-Philosophy 24 (2):162-184.
    In this article, I argue that by considering Ludwig Wittgenstein's methods, we can better understand and appreciate Jonas Mekas's diary films. Based on Wittgenstein's notion of “aesthetic puzzlement”, I identify the main confusions encountered by the viewer upon watching Mekas's films, such as: 1) fragmentation; 2) persistent repetition; and 3) the importance placed on the everyday. I discuss three films – Walden, Lost Lost Lost, and As I Was Moving Ahead Occasionally I Saw Brief Glimpses of Beauty – and demonstrate (...)
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  8. Given (No) Time: A Derridean Reading of Denis Villeneuve's Arrival.Gina Zavota - 2020 - Film-Philosophy 24 (2):185-203.
    The central character of Denis Villeneuve's 2016 film Arrival, Dr. Louise Banks, is a linguist tasked with deciphering a logographic alien language in time to avert a seemingly impending global war. I argue that the alien heptapods' logographs exemplify the understanding of language advanced by Jacques Derrida in seminal texts such as Of Grammatology, while also engaging some of the themes concerning time and gift-giving that he develops in later, more explicitly political works. Derrida argues that written signifiers, rather than (...)
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  9. Deadly Barks: Acousmaticity and Post-Animality in Lucrecia Martel's La Ciénaga.Andrea Avidad - 2020 - Film-Philosophy 24 (2):222-240.
    Acousmatic sound is often defined as a sound whose source is unseen, that is, in terms of a separation between the senses of hearing and seeing. Discussions about the acousmatic have generally focused on the ontological relation between the sonic effect and the visually unavailable source that produces it. This article examines the function of acousmatic sound in Argentine auteur Lucrecia Martel's La ciénaga, arguing that the film's distinctive employment of acousmatic sound and acousmatic listening constitutes a strategy of disruption, (...)
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  10. New Sincerity and Frances Ha in Light of Sartre: A Proposal for an Existentialist Conceptual Framework.Allard den Dulk - 2020 - Film-Philosophy 24 (2):140-161.
    There is a growing discourse on “new sincerity,” and related terms like “quirky” and “metamodernism,” as a movement or sensibility in contemporary cinema developing from the late 1990s onward, exemplified by the work of filmmakers such as Wes Anderson and Charlie Kaufman. However, what this new concept means in the context of cinema has so far remained under-defined and requires further philosophical analysis. This article provides such an analysis by offering a reconceptualization of Jean-Paul Sartre's existentialist-phenomenological notions of good faith (...)
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  11. Kriss Ravetto-Biagioli (2017) Mythopoetic Cinema: On the Ruins of European Cinema.James Harvey - 2020 - Film-Philosophy 24 (2):241-244.
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  12. Elizabeth Ezra (2017) The Cinema of Things: Globalization and the Posthuman Object.Reuben Martens - 2020 - Film-Philosophy 24 (2):245-249.
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  13. Imagination and Perception in Film Experience.Enrico Terrone - 2020 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 7.
    Both perception and imagination seem to play a crucial role in our engagement with fiction films but whether they really do so, and which role they possibly play, is controversial. On the one hand, a fiction film, as film, is a depiction that invites us to perceive the events portrayed. On the other hand, as fiction, it invites us to imagine the story told. Thus, after watching the film Alien, one might say that one saw Ripley fighting the monster but (...)
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  14. Sonic Pictures.Jason Leddington - forthcoming - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism.
    Winning essay of the American Society for Aesthetics' inaugural Peter Kivy Prize. Extends Kivy's notion of sonic picturing through engagement with recent work in philosophy of perception. Argues that sonic pictures are more widespread and more aesthetically and artistically important than even Kivy envisioned. Topics discussed include: the nature of sonic pictures; the nature of sounds; what we can (and more importantly, cannot) conclude from musical listening; sonic pictures in film; beatboxing as an art of sonic picturing; and cover songs (...)
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  15. Jennifer Fay (2018) Inhospitable World: Cinema in the Time of the Anthropocene.William Brown - 2020 - Film-Philosophy 24 (1):78-81.
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  16. Timothy Barker (2018) Against Transmission: Media Philosophy and the Engineering of Time.Matilde Nardelli - 2020 - Film-Philosophy 24 (1):75-77.
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  17. Calum Watt (2017) Blanchot and the Moving Image: Fascination and Spectatorship.Corey P. Cribb - 2020 - Film-Philosophy 24 (1):71-74.
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  18. Touch as Proximate Distance: Post-Phenomenological Ethics in the Cinema of Isabel Coixet.Katarzyna Paszkiewicz - 2020 - Film-Philosophy 24 (1):22-45.
    In the wake of paradigm-shifting works on cinematic affect over the last few decades that have challenged psychoanalytically based gaze theory, embodied perception and sensory-affective experience...
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  19. Taciturn Masculinities: Radical Quiet and Sounding Linguistic Difference in Valeska Grisebach's Western.Hannah Paveck - 2020 - Film-Philosophy 24 (1):46-66.
    This article brings into dialogue the work of Jean-Luc Nancy and Berlin School filmmaker Valeska Grisebach to consider the relationship between film sound, gender and settler colonialism in Western...
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  20. Katherine Groo (2019) Bad Film Histories: Ethnography and the Early Archive.Chelsea Wessels - 2020 - Film-Philosophy 24 (1):67-70.
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  21. A Cinema of Boredom: Heidegger, Cinematic Time and Spectatorship.Chiara Quaranta - 2020 - Film-Philosophy 24 (1):1-21.
    Boredom, in cinema as well as in our everyday experience, is usually associated with a generalised loss of meaning or interest. Accordingly, boredom is often perceived as that which ought to be avo...
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  22. I Hate Applause: Norm Macdonald and Laughter.Jeremy Fried - 2020 - In Ruth Tallman & Jason Southworth (eds.), Saturday Night Live and Philosophy: Deep Thoughts Through the Decades. pp. 169-176.
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  23. Bienvenida Ternura. Emoción y Narración en la Nueva Serialidad Televisiva.Irene Martínez Marín - 2018 - In Alberto Nahum García Martínez & María J. Ortiz (eds.), Cine y series. pp. 217-232.
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  24. Mental Calisthenics and Self-Reflexive Fiction.Joshua Landy - 2015 - In The Oxford Handbook of Cognitive Approaches to Literature. New York, NY, USA: pp. 559-80.
    Drawing on what we know about priming effects, informational encapsulation, lucid dreaming, imaginative practice, and the “mirror box” illusion, this article argues that self-reflexive fictions may enhance our capacity for simultaneous belief and disbelief, a capacity of surprising importance for human flourishing.
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  25. Editor's Introduction.Dan Shaw - 2005 - Film and Philosophy 9:3-4.
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  26. Fatalism in John Huston's Fat City.Dan Shaw - 2004 - Film and Philosophy 8:172-174.
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  27. Editor's Introduction.Daniel Shaw - 2003 - Film and Philosophy 7:2-3.
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  28. Editor's Introduction.Daniel Shaw - 2004 - Film and Philosophy 8:3-4.
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  29. Does the Audience Matter?Andrew Light - 2002 - Film and Philosophy 5:156-163.
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  30. Cinematic Humanism or Grand Theory?Thomas E. Wartenberg - 2002 - Film and Philosophy 5:131-137.
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  31. Transgression: Ordinary and Otherwise. [REVIEW]Brian Butler - 2002 - Film and Philosophy 5:180-183.
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  32. Interpreting the Moving Image.Noël Carroll - 2002 - Film and Philosophy 5:172-179.
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  33. Editor's Introduction.Dan Flory - 2002 - Film and Philosophy 5:3-7.
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  34. Oedipus Techs.Richard Gilmore - 2002 - Film and Philosophy 5:35-44.
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  35. Specificity, Popularity, and Engagement in the Moving Image.Alan Goldman - 2002 - Film and Philosophy 5:93-99.
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  36. Being Don Juan.Deborah Knight - 2002 - Film and Philosophy 5:25-34.
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  37. Interpreting Films Philosophically.Thomas E. Wartenberg - 2002 - Film and Philosophy 5:164-171.
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  38. Nietzsche and The Big Sleep.Craig N. Bach - 2002 - Film and Philosophy 5:45-59.
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  39. Defending Theorizing.Noël Carroll - 2002 - Film and Philosophy 5:100-105.
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  40. Quasi-Fearing Fictions.E. M. Dadlez - 2002 - Film and Philosophy 5:1-13.
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  41. Into the Toilet.Richard Gilmore - 2002 - Film and Philosophy 5:77-85.
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  42. The Work of Love-At Work on Board The African Queen.Joseph H. Kupfer - 2002 - Film and Philosophy 5:60-76.
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  43. Reason and/or Imagination.Bert Olivier - 2002 - Film and Philosophy 5:14-24.
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  44. Defending Theorizing II: The Sequel.Noël Carroll - 2002 - Film and Philosophy 5:110-113.
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  45. Margolis, Mechanical Reproduction and Cinematic Humanism.Noël Carroll - 2002 - Film and Philosophy 5:138-142.
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  46. Response to Carroll.Allan Casebier - 2002 - Film and Philosophy 5:108-109.
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  47. Aesthetic Cognition and Visible Intelligibility.Dan Flory - 2002 - Film and Philosophy 5:143-150.
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  48. Response to Carroll.Alan Goldman - 2002 - Film and Philosophy 5:106-107.
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  49. Why Intention Matters.Flo Leibowitz - 2002 - Film and Philosophy 5:151-155.
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  50. Mechanical Reproduction and Cinematic Humanism.Joseph Margolis - 2002 - Film and Philosophy 5:114-130.
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