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

3832 found
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  1. Tosaka Jun y las funciones epistémicas de la cultura: materiales para un estudio sobre transhistoricidad e identidades colectivas.Montserrat Crespín Perales - 2021 - Logos. Anales Del Seminario de Metafísica [Universidad Complutense de Madrid, España] 54 (1):55-80.
    La obra del filósofo japonés Tosaka Jun permanece todavía muy desconocida, tanto en el entramado acotado de los estudios japoneses, como en el campo filosófico. Y esto a pesar de la importancia de sus reflexiones para el ayer al que perteneció y el ahora que se resignifica, en parte, con los materiales residuales del siglo pasado. Dentro de su proyecto filosóficamente polifónico, Tosaka se empeñó en clarificar las relaciones entre nacionalismo cultural, capitalismo, totalitarismo y vida cotidiana. Este trabajo presenta su (...)
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  2. SportsCenter: The Documentary? A Response to Pratt.Jonathan Frome - 2020 - Wiley: The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 78 (1).
    The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Volume 78, Issue 1, Page 94-97, Winter 2020.
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  3. Coordinating the Defense: A Reply to Frome.Henry John Pratt - 2020 - Wiley: The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 78 (1):97-100.
    The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Volume 78, Issue 1, Page 97-100, Winter 2020.
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  4. A Miraculous Materialism: Lines of Flight in We Have a Pope and Corpo Celeste.Silvia Angeli & Francesco Sticchi - 2021 - Film-Philosophy 25 (1):1-17.
    This article considers Nanni Moretti's We Have a Pope and Alice Rohrwacher's Corpo Celeste via the notion of lines of flight as developed by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari. We argue that, in spite of stylistic and thematic differences, the two films present clear similarities since they highlight and address conflicts and tensions existing within the contemporary Catholic religious order. Both films present cracks and horizons of becoming within the institutionalised Catholic Church, tracing possible paths of transformation for viewers aligning (...)
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  5. David Martin-Jones (2018) Cinema Against Doublethink: Ethical Encounters with the Lost Pasts of World History.Simon Dickson - 2021 - Film-Philosophy 25 (1):74-78.
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  6. Murray Smith (2017) Film, Art, and the Third Culture: A Naturalized Aesthetics of Film.Will Kitchen - 2021 - Film-Philosophy 25 (1):83-86.
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  7. Francesco Sticchi (2019) Melancholy Emotion in Contemporary Cinema: A Spinozian Analysis of Film Experience.Claudio Celis Bueno - 2021 - Film-Philosophy 25 (1):70-73.
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  8. Laura McMahon (2019) Animal Worlds: Film, Philosophy and Time.Savina Petkova - 2021 - Film-Philosophy 25 (1):79-82.
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  9. Bernd Herzogenrath (Ed.) (2017) Film as Philosophy.Christa van Raalte - 2021 - Film-Philosophy 25 (1):66-69.
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  10. Kate Ince (2017) The Body and the Screen: Female Subjectivities in Contemporary Women's Cinema.Laura Staab - 2021 - Film-Philosophy 25 (1):62-65.
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  11. Trembling Meaning: Camera Instability and Gilbert Simondon's Transduction in Czech Archival Film.Jiří Anger - 2021 - Film-Philosophy 25 (1):18-41.
    Many experimental found footage films base their meanings and effects on an interaction between the figurative content of the image and its material-technological underpinnings. Can this interaction arise accidentally without artistic appropriation? A recently digitised film by the Czech cinema pioneer Jan Kříženecký, Opening Ceremony of the Čech Bridge, presents such an exercise in accidental aesthetics. At one point, the horizontal and vertical trembling of the cinematograph – obtained from the Lumière brothers – translates into a trembling of the figures (...)
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  12. André Bazin's Eternal Returns: An Ontological Revision.Jeff Fort - 2021 - Film-Philosophy 25 (1):42-61.
    The recent publication of André Bazin's Écrits complets, an enormous two-volume edition of 3000 pages which increases ten-fold Bazin's available corpus, provides opportunities for renewed reflection on, and possibly for substantial revisions of, this key figure in film theory. On the basis of several essays, I propose a drastic rereading of Bazin's most explicitly philosophical notion of “ontology.” This all too familiar notion, long settled into a rather dust-laden couple nonetheless retains its fascination. Rather than attempting to provide a systematic (...)
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  13. Time to Revisit Classical Film Theory.Lester H. Hunt - 2021 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 79 (1):42-51.
    Film audiences are no longer in a position to know for certain which images, or features of images they see on the screen were created by photography and which were created in a computer. Yet they are reacting to the advent of computer graphics as if it is merely a technical improvement, not a change in the nature of film itself. This would mean that one of the most influential early theories of film—realism—is wrong. It held that film is by (...)
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  14. Empathie in der Kunst.Íngrid Vendrell-Ferran - forthcoming - In Siegmund Judith (ed.), Handbuch Kunstphilosophie.
    Dieses Kapitel handelt von der Empathie in der Kunst. Ich beginne mit einer Reflexion über die Ursprünge des Begriffes und seine Verwendung in der Ästhetik. Es folgt eine Analyse der Empathie im Vergleich zu anderen Formen der Anteilnahme an Kunstwerken. Im dritten Teil untersuche ich die Mechanismen der Empathie in der Kunst und die Funktion der Imagination. Der vierte Teil widmet sich der Bedeutung der Gefühle bei der Empathie für Kunstfiguren. Schließlich thematisiere ich den epistemischen, moralischen und ästhetischen Wert der (...)
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  15. ‘We Have Come to Be Destroyed’: The ‘Extraordinary’ Child in Science Fiction Cinema in Early Cold War Britain.Laura Tisdall - forthcoming - History of the Human Sciences:095269512097734.
    Depictions of children in British science fiction and horror films in the early 1960s introduced a new but dominant trope: the ‘extraordinary’ child. Extraordinary children, I suggest, are disturbing because they violate expected developmental norms, drawing on discourses from both the ‘psy’ sciences and early neuroscience. This post-war trope has been considered by film and literature scholars in the past five years, but this existing work tends to present the extraordinary child as an American phenomenon, and links these depictions to (...)
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  16. Estética inorgánica. Detroit en Only Lovers Left Alive.Leonardo Arriagada - 2020 - Archivos de la Filmoteca (78):111-124.
    El cine de Jim Jarmusch es reconocible por captar momentos de quietud en los que la acción y el drama son secundarios. Es por ello que su film Only Lovers Left Alive ha sido tan destacado por críticos y académicos. Esta película ha llevado a la pantalla la estética ruinosa de Detroit. Este artículo amplía esas recientes investigaciones, para postular que la Detroit de Jarmusch es una ciudad estéticamente inorgánica. Siguiendo a grandes rasgos los lineamientos de Wilhelm Worringer, se analiza (...)
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  17. Interdisciplinarity, Multidisciplinarity and Transdisciplinarity in Humanities.Banu Akçeşme, Hasan Bakır & Eugene Steele - 2016 - Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
    The domination of single subjects in academic programmes and institutions has recently been called into question. Literary studies are currently opening themselves up to the epistemological renewal that other fields can offer. They are increasingly borrowing theoretical tools from other subjects in order to analyse the historical, socio-political and institutional conditions of the production of literary texts, to identify the general discursive circumstances in which they emerge, and to study the relationship between literature and other media. Similarly, while subjects such (...)
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  18. Becoming-Flashdrive: The Cinematic Intelligence of Lucy.Laurence Kent - 2020 - Film-Philosophy 24 (3):284-303.
    An important but easily forgotten moment in the history of film-philosophy is Jean Epstein's assertion that cinema, more than merely thinking, has a kind of intelligence. If it is a newfound conception of rationality that is needed for any contemporary ethical relation to the world, as thinkers from Reza Negarestani and Pete Wolfendale to feminist collective Laboria Cuboniks have espoused in their respective neo-rationalist projects, then cinema as a thinking thing must be interrogated in its relation to reason. A somatophilia (...)
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  19. The Politics of Humour in Kafkaesque Cinema: A World-Systems Approach.Angelos Koutsourakis - 2020 - Film-Philosophy 24 (3):259-283.
    Kafka's work has exercised immense influence on cinema and his reflections on diminished human agency in modernity and the dominance of oppressive institutions that perpetuate individual or social alienation and political repression have been the subject of debates by philosophers such as Theodor Adorno, Walter Benjamin, Gilles Deleuze, Félix Guattari, and Alexander Kluge. Informed by a world-systems approach and taking a cue from Jorge Luis Borges’ point that Kafka has modified our conception of the future, and André Bazin's suggestion that (...)
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  20. A Cinema for the Ears: Imagining the Audio-Cinematic Through Podcasting.Dario Llinares - 2020 - Film-Philosophy 24 (3):341-365.
    Podcasts have been described as “a cinema for the ears” and this application of a visual rhetoric to describe an audio-only experience results in an attempt to define what is still a relatively new medium. I argue that it is possible to consider something cinematic without the presence of moving images. Assertions in favour of the cinematic nature of podcasts often employ the visual imagination of listeners evoked by heightened audio characteristics that a particular podcast may possess. By focusing on (...)
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  21. The Scream Itself: Masochistic Jouissance and a Cinema of Speechlessness in La Grande Bouffe.Sharon Jane Mee - 2020 - Film-Philosophy 24 (3):321-340.
    This article argues for an understanding of the scream at the nexus of a pre-verbal, imperceptible and inaudible operation. The work of Jean-François Lyotard describes a figure that breaks with figurative, illustrative and narrative forms, and takes up an operative function. In aesthetic terms, this operative figure – the figure of the matrix of desire – is what Lyotard describes as “seeing” rather than “vision”. That is, a child-like look that does not recognise the world by which it might master (...)
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  22. Kara Keeling (2019) Queer Times, Black Futures.William Brown - 2020 - Film-Philosophy 24 (3):379-382.
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  23. On Pros and Cons and Bills and Gates: The Heist Film as Pleasure.Julian Hanich - 2020 - Film-Philosophy 24 (3):304-320.
    This article tries to shed light on the multiple, but underrated pleasures of the heist film – a genre that has attracted numerous major directors from Jean-Pierre Melville and Stanley Kubrick to Michael Mann and Steven Soderbergh, but has received limited scholarly attention. I approach the genre from a, broadly, philosophical perspective and draw on thinkers such as Peter Sloterdijk, Georg Simmel, Paul Souriau and Bruno Latour to argue that their emphasis on skillful action and kinaesthetic empathy, smooth transgression of (...)
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  24. Catherine Wheatley (2019) Stanley Cavell and Film: Scepticism and Self-Reliance at the Cinema.Daniele Rugo - 2020 - Film-Philosophy 24 (3):375-378.
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  25. Daniel Shaw (2019) Stanley Cavell and the Magic of Hollywood Films.Kyle Barrowman - 2020 - Film-Philosophy 24 (3):371-374.
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  26. Thomas Elsaesser (2019) European Cinema and Continental Philosophy: Film As Thought Experiment.Michelle Devereaux - 2020 - Film-Philosophy 24 (3):366-370.
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  27. Empathy as the Opposite of Egocentrism: Why the Simulation Theory and the Direct Perception Theory of Empathy Fail.Robert Blanchet - 2020 - Topoi 39 (4):751-759.
    This paper presents a new, third-personal account of empathy that characterizes empathy as being sensitive to others’ concerns as opposed to remaining stuck in one’s egocentric perspective on the world. The paper also demonstrates why this account is preferable to its two main rivals, namely the simulation theory of empathy, and the direct perception theory of empathy.
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  28. La estética y el arte a debate (II).José Ramón Fabelo Corzo & Mariana Romero Bello (eds.) - 2018 - Puebla, Pue., México: Colección La Fuente, BUAP.
    El presente libro recopila algunas de las mejores investigaciones presentadas en el “IX Coloquio Internacional de Estética y Arte” en La Habana en diciembre del 2015, redactadas ahora a modo de artículos. La estética y el arte a debate II está compuesto por 27 artículos y se encuentra dividido en cinco bloques que, de alguna manera, reflejan las temáticas centrales alrededor de las cuales giró el encuentro del 2015. Los bloques temáticos son: 1 Arte, estética y política, 2 Cine y (...)
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  29. The Film When Day Breaks – a Visual Lieu de Mémoire for the Yugoslav Jewry.Klaus-Jürgen Hermanik - 2020 - Zeitschrift für Religions- Und Geistesgeschichte 72 (1):65-79.
  30. The Puzzle of Good Bad Movies.Uku Tooming - 2020 - Journal of Aesthetic Education 54 (3):31-46.
    There are bad movies, and there are movies that are so bad that they are good. So-called good bad movies have received a lot of attention from critics and moviegoers in recent years. Many people, including those with good taste, are willing to invest their time and resources in watching and discussing them. In this paper, I will argue that the fact that aesthetically competent consumers of cinema are engaging with good bad movies challenges an intuitive assumption according to which (...)
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  31. Editorial preface.R. L. Hall - 2020 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 88 (1):1-3.
  32. The Phenomenological Movement in Context of the Philosophy of Film and Motion Pictures.Shawn Loht - 2019 - In Noël Carroll, Laura T. Di Summa & Shawn Loht (eds.), The Palgrave Handbook of the Philosophy of Film and Motion Pictures. Springer. pp. 285-313.
    This chapter surveys foundational concepts in the history of phenomenology for the purpose of highlighting their relevance for key contemporary issues in the philosophy of film. A central argument concerns phenomenology’s capacity for unraveling the ontology of film, given phenomenology’s emphasis on accounting for the ontology of phenomena through description based in first-person experience. On this ground, the chapter defends the claim that film’s ontology stems from the projective intentionality of the film viewer, where the communicative nature of embodied vision (...)
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  33. 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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  34. 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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  35. 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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  36. Ben Tyrer (2016) Out of the Past: Lacan and Film Noir.Daniel Clarke - 2020 - Film-Philosophy 24 (2):254-257.
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  37. 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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  38. 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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  39. 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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  40. 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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  41. 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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  42. 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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  43. 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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  44. 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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  45. 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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  46. 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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  47. 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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  48. 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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  49. 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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  50. 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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