About this topic

When many people hear "philosophy of film" they think "philosophy through film." That is, they think of work on the philosophical contributions made by film.  This middle category is home to work that explores the philosophy found in movies and philosophy done in conjunction with a film. It contains both philosophy in film and philosophy through film. The most common approach is that addressing a single film. Less common, some address the philosophy of a filmmaker. And, even less common, some work on the philosophical insights to be had from particular genres of film, such screwball comedy and the western.

Key works The special issue of the Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism on the philosophy of film (Smith & Wartenberg 2006) features several essays exploring the philosophic potential of film.  The exchange between Livingston 2006 and Smuts 2009 provides a good introduction to question, Can film do philosophy? Grau 2005 is an excellent example of philosophy through film.
Introductions Livingston 2010 provides an introduction to the area.
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176 found
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  1. added 2019-02-02
    Could a Heptapod Act? Language and Agency in Arrival.James Pearson - 2019 - Film and Philosophy 23:48-68.
    Arrival offers a useful thought experiment in the philosophy of mind and language. Assessing human linguists' interpretive efforts to understand the alien heptapod form of life in both the movie and the novella from which it was adapted (Ted Chiang’s “Story of Your Life”) teach us how our understanding of selfhood shapes our conception of agency. Arrival’s reflexive commentary on the cinematic experience is also an argument for the value of learning to communicate in cinematic language.
  2. added 2019-01-31
    The Routledge Companion to Philosophy and Film. [REVIEW]Paloma Atencia-Linares - 2010 - Disputatio 3 (28):317-320.
  3. added 2018-12-11
    The Phantasmatic Reality: A Phenomenological Study of the Cinematic Imagination.Przemysław Bursztyka - 2017 - In Christine Reeh & José Manuel Martins (eds.), Thinking Reality and Time through Film. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. pp. 35-47.
  4. added 2018-10-27
    Can Films Philosophize? The Rationality and Imposition Objections.Diana Neiva - 2018 - Dialectic Journal 12 (I):22-29.
  5. added 2018-09-20
    Johnny Cash and Philosophy: Burning Ring of Truth.John Huss & David Werther (eds.) - 2008 - Chicago: Open Court.
  6. added 2018-08-10
    Consumerism, Aristotle and Fantastic Mr. Fox.Matt Duncan - 2015 - Film-Philosophy 19 (1):249-269.
    Wes Anderson's Fantastic Mr. Fox is about Mr. Fox's attempt to flourish as both a wild animal and a consumer. As such, this film raises some interesting and difficult questions about what it means to be a member of a certain kind, what is required to flourish as a member of that kind, and how consumerism either promotes or inhibits such flourishing. In this paper I use Fantastic Mr. Fox as an entry point into an examination of the relationship between (...)
  7. added 2018-02-18
    Introducing Philosophy Through Film: Key Texts, Discussion, and Film Selections.Richard A. Fumerton & Diane Jeske (eds.) - 2009 - Wiley-Blackwell.
    _Philosophy Through Film_ offers a uniquely engaging and effective approach to introductory philosophy by combining an anthology of classical and contemporary philosophical readings with a discussion of philosophical concepts illustrated in popular films. Pairs 50 classical and contemporary readings with popular films - from Monty Python and _The Matrix_ to _Casablanca_ and _A Clockwork Orange_ Addresses key areas in philosophy, including topics in ethics, philosophy of religion, philosophy of mind, free will and determinism, the problem of perception, and philosophy of (...)
  8. added 2017-06-14
    Cinephilia and Philosophia: Or, Why I Don't Show The Matrix in Philosophy 101.Timothy Yenter - 2017 - In Rashna Wadia Richards & David T. Johnson (eds.), For the Love of Cinema: Teaching Our Passion In and Outside the Classroom. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.
    The shelves of film and philosophy books should have made it considerably easier to teach with films in introductory philosophy classes, and certainly many philosophers have found them useful. However, shortcomings of many of these pop culture volumes (which I discuss in the next section) make these works rarely useful in the classroom. I propose instead a new model for how to teach film in a philosophy class. The model develops the virtues inherent in cinephilia and connects those virtues to (...)
  9. added 2017-04-13
    Rivette’s The Nun: Religion Between Sadism and Masochism.Stellino Paolo - 2016 - Journal of Religion and Film 20 (1):Article 8.
  10. added 2017-03-13
    How Movies Do Philosophy.Wack Daniel - 2014 - Film and Philosophy 18.
  11. added 2017-03-13
    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.
  12. added 2017-02-14
    Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.Christopher Grau (ed.) - 2009 - Routledge.
    Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is one of the most widely discussed and thought-provoking films of recent years. This is the first book to explore and address the philosophical aspects of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind . Beginning with a helpful introduction that places each essay in context, specially commissioned chapters examine the following topics: philosophical issues surrounding love, friendship, affirmation and repetition the role of memory (and the emotions) in personal identity and decision-making the morality of imagination (...)
  13. added 2017-01-15
    Philosophy Through Film.Mary M. Litch - 2010 - Routledge.
    Some of the world’s best-loved films can be used as springboards for examining enduring philosophical questions. _Philosophy Through Film_ provides guidance in how to watch films with an eye for their philosophical content, helping students become familiar with key topics in all of the major areas in Western philosophy, and helping them master the techniques of philosophical argumentation. The perfect size and scope for a first course in philosophy, _Philosophy Through Film_ assumes no prior knowledge of philosophy. It is an (...)
  14. added 2017-01-14
    Philosophy Through Film.Mary M. Litch & Amy D. Karofsky - 2014 - Routledge.
    Many of the classic questions of philosophy have been raised, illuminated, and addressed in celluloid. In this Third Edition of _Philosophy through Film,_ Mary M. Litch teams up with a new co-author, Amy Karofsky, to show readers how to watch films with a sharp eye for their philosophical content. Together, the authors help students become familiar with key topics in all of the major areas in Western philosophy and master the techniques of philosophical argumentation. The perfect size and scope for (...)
  15. added 2016-12-27
    The Cognitive Value of Blade Runner.McGregor Rafe - 2015 - Aesthetic Investigations 1 (2).
    The purpose of this essay is to argue that Blade Runner: The Final Cut (Ridley Scott, 2007) has cognitive value which is inseparable from its value as a work of cinema. I introduce the cinematic philosophy debate in §1. §2 sets out my position: that the Final Cut affirms the proposition there is no necessary relation between humanity and human beings. I outline the combination of cinematic depiction with distinctive features of the narrative’s peripeteia in §3. In §4, I explain (...)
  16. added 2016-12-08
    The Logic of Failures of the Cinematic Imagination: Two Case Studies – and a Logical Puzzle and Solution in Just One.Joseph S. Fulda - 2013 - Pragmatics and Society 4 (1):105-111.
    This piece is intended to explicate - by providing a precising definition of - the common cinematic figure which I term “the failure of the cinematic imagination,“ while presenting a logical puzzle and its solution within a simple Gricean framework. -/- It should be noted that this is neither fully accurate nor fully precise, because of the audience; one should examine the remaining articles in the issue to understand what I mean.
  17. added 2016-12-08
    Seeing the Light: Exploring Ethics Through Movies.Wanda Teays - 2012 - Wiley-Blackwell.
    _Seeing the Light: Exploring Ethics Through Movies_ is an engaging and innovative approach to the study of philosophy and the development of moral reasoning skills. Features broad coverage of topics in ethics and moral reasoning Offers an innovative and imaginative approach to showing relevance of movies for ethical reflection Draws on a diverse selection of popular movies, foreign films, and documentaries to illustrate ethical dilemmas and character development on the big screen that has application to our lives Presents coverage of (...)
  18. added 2016-12-08
    Thinking Through Film: Doing Philosophy, Watching Movies.Damian Cox & Michael P. Levine - 2011 - Wiley-Blackwell.
    An introduction to philosophy through film, _Thinking Through Film: Doing Philosophy, Watching Movies_ combines the exploration of fundamental philosophical issues with the experience of viewing films, and provides an engaging reading experience for undergraduate students, philosophy enthusiasts and film buffs alike. An in-depth yet accessible introduction to the philosophical issues raised by films, film spectatorship and film-making Provides 12 self-contained, close discussions of individual films from across genres Films discussed include Total Recall, Minority Report, La Promesse, Funny Games, Ikuru, The (...)
  19. added 2016-12-08
    Terminator and Philosophy: I'll Be Back, Therefore I Am.Kevin S. Decker & Richard Brown (eds.) - 2009 - Wiley.
    A timely book that uses science fiction to provoke reflection and discussion on philosophical issues From the nature of mind to the ethics of AI and neural enhancement, science fiction thought experiments fire the philosophical imagination, encouraging us to think outside of the box about classic philosophical problems and even to envision new ones. Science Fiction and Philosophy explores puzzles about virtual reality, transhumanism, whether time travel is possible, the nature of artificial intelligence, and topics in neuroethics, among other timely (...)
  20. added 2016-12-05
    A View to a Kill: Perspectives on Faux-Snuff and Self.Steve Jones - 2016 - In Neil Jackson, Shaun Kimber, Johnny Walker & Thomas Watson (eds.), Snuff: Real Death and Screen Media. Bloomsbury Academic. pp. 277-294.
    Scholarly debate over faux-snuff’s content has predominantly focused on realism and affect. This paper seeks to offer an alternative interpretation, examining what faux-snuff’s form reveals about self. Faux-snuff is typically presented from a first-person perspective (killer-cam), and as such is foundationally invested in the killer’s experiences as they record their murder spree. First then, I propose that the simulated-snuff form reifies self-experience in numerous ways. Faux-snuff’s characteristic formal attributes capture the self’s limited, fractured qualities, for example. Second, I contend that (...)
  21. added 2016-12-05
    Philosophers Explore the Matrix.Christopher Grau (ed.) - 2005 - Oxford University Press.
    The Matrix trilogy is unique among recent popular films in that it is constructed around important philosophical questions--classic questions which have fascinated philosophers and other thinkers for thousands of years. Editor Christopher Grau here presents a collection of new, intriguing essays about some of the powerful and ancient questions broached by The Matrix and its sequels, written by some of the most prominent and reputable philosophers working today. They provide intelligent, accessible, and thought-provoking examinations of the philosophical issues that support (...)
  22. added 2016-11-20
    A Double-Edged Sword: Honor in "The Duellists".James Edwin Mahon - 2013 - In Alan Barkman, Ashley Barkman & Nancy King (eds.), The Culture and Philosophy of Ridley Scott. Lexington Books. pp. 45-60.
    In this essay I argue that Ridley Scott's first feature film, The Duelists, which is an adaptation of a Joseph Conrad novella, contains his deepest meditation on honor in his entire career. The film may be said to answer the following question about honor: is being bound to do something by honor, when it is contrary to one's self-interest, a good thing, or a bad thing? It may be said to give the answer that it may be either good or (...)
  23. added 2016-10-28
    Memento.Andrew Kania (ed.) - 2009 - Routledge.
    Within a short space of time, the film Memento has already been hailed as a modern classic. Memorably narrated in reverse, from the perspective of Leonard Shelby, the film’s central character, it follows Leonard’s chaotic and visceral quest to discover the identity of his wife’s killer and avenge her murder, despite his inability to form new long-term memories. This is the first book to explore and address the myriad philosophical questions raised by the film, concerning personal identity, free will, memory, (...)
  24. added 2016-10-17
    Le plan subjectif réversible: Sur le point de vue au cinéma à partir des écrits de Merleau-Ponty.Anna Caterina Dalmasso - 2016 - Studia Phaenomenologica 16:135-162.
    When I am watching a movie, I perceive on the screen a space, which is united and lived, even if it appears as fragmented and separated from the world in which I live. But is the space of the cinematic frame equivalent or commensurable with the one I see through my own eyes? Are they opposed to each other or do they merge together? The most amazing example of the possible convergence of gaze and frame the film realizes is the (...)
  25. added 2016-09-29
    The Routledge Companion to Philosophy and Film. [REVIEW]Ted Nannicelli - 2012 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 20 (5):763-766.
  26. added 2016-09-05
    Nihilism Reconstruction and the Hero's Journey.Raymond Aaron Younis - 2007 - In Angela Ndalianis Wendy Haslem & Chris Mackie (eds.), Super/Heroes. New Academia. pp. 97-111.
  27. added 2016-09-05
    Hollywood, Vietnam and the National Imaginary: ‘Three Seasons'.Raymond Aaron Younis - 1999 - Asian Studies Association of Australia E-Journal (September).
  28. added 2016-09-05
    Jane Campion's The Piano.Raymond Aaron Younis - 1993 - Cinema Papers 95 (October):50-52.
  29. added 2016-03-08
    Horrible Heroes: Liberating Alternative Visions of Disability in Horror.Melinda Hall - 2016 - The Disability Studies Quarterly 36 (1).
    Understanding disability requires understanding its social construction, and social construction can be read in cultural products. In this essay, I look to one major locus for images of persons with disabilities—horror. Horror films and fiction use disability imagery to create and augment horror. I first situate my understanding of disability imagery in the horror genre using a case study read through the work of Julia Kristeva. But, I go on to argue that trademark moves in the horror genre, which typically (...)
  30. added 2016-02-29
    La Philosophie D’Après le Cinéma.Hugo Clémot - 2013 - Revista Portuguesa de Filosofia 69 (3-4):431-450.
    Resumo Pode um filme ser filosófico ? Para os filósofos analíticos esta questão dá origem àquilo que Paisley Livingston designou por “problema da paráfrase”, um dilema intratável para os adeptos da “tese audaciosa”, segundo a qual alguém pode envolver-se com a filosofia através do cinema. Este artigo defende que a prática corajosa de Stanley Cavell, de sempre procurar abordar a filosofia através do cinema, demonstra a importância de um baluarte sediado na autenticidade das análises conceptuais cinematográficas, que vieram a ser (...)
  31. added 2016-02-29
    Les Jeux Philosophiques de la Trilogie Matrix.Hugo Clémot - 2011 - Vrin.
    La trilogie Matrix a suscité une littérature philosophique très importante dans le monde entier. Plus de dix ans après la sortie du premier des trois films, il est temps de faire un bilan des meilleures contributions et de proposer une interprétation inédite qui s’appuie non seulement sur l’ensemble de la trilogie, mais aussi sur les courts métrages animés, les comic books et les jeux vidéo conçus pour accompagner les films. Cette approche prétend en outre apporter une réponse à la question (...)
  32. added 2016-02-17
    Philosophy and the Patience of Film in Cavell and Nancy.Daniele Rugo - 2016 - Palgrave.
    With a foreword by Jean-Luc Nancy -/- Philosophy and the Patience of Film presents a comparative study of the work of Jean-Luc Nancy and Stanley Cavell. It discusses the effect of their philosophical engagement with film, and proposes that the interaction between philosophy and film produces a power of patience capable of turning our negation of the world into a relation with it. -/- Through detailed readings of cinematic works ranging from Hollywood classics to contemporary Iranian cinema, this book describes (...)
  33. added 2015-11-03
    Torture Pornopticon: (In)Security Cameras, Self-Governance and Autonomy.Steve Jones - 2015 - In Linnie Blake & Xavier Aldana Reyes (eds.), Digital Horror: Haunted Technologies, Network Panic and the Found Footage Phenomenon. I.B. Tauris. pp. 29-41.
    ‘Torture porn’ films centre on themes of abduction, imprisonment and suffering. Within the subgenre, protagonists are typically placed under relentless surveillance by their captors. CCTV features in more than 45 contemporary torture-themed films (including Captivity, Hunger, and Torture Room). Security cameras signify a bridging point between the captors’ ability to observe and to control their prey. Founded on power-imbalance, torture porn’s prison-spaces are panoptical. Despite failing to encapsulate contemporary surveillance’s complexities (see Haggerty, 2011), the panopticon remains a dominant paradigm within (...)
  34. added 2015-09-05
    Che cosa è soprannaturale?Andrea Guardo - 2013 - Itinera 6 (1):175-186.
    A popular article which discusses Woody Allen’s 1982 movie "A Midsummer’s Night Sex Comedy".
  35. added 2015-08-26
    Cinematic Philosophy: Experiential Affirmation in Memento.Rafe Mcgregor - 2014 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 72 (1):57-66.
    This article demonstrates that Memento (Christopher Nolan, 2000) meets both conditions of Paisley Livingston's bold thesis of cinema as philosophy. I delineate my argument in terms of Aaron Smuts's clarifications of Livingston's conditions. The results condition, which is concerned with the nature of the philosophical content, is developed in relation to Berys Gaut's conception of narrational confirmation, which I designate ‘experiential affirmation.’ Because experiential affirmation is a function of cinematic depiction, it meets Livingston's means condition, which is concerned with the (...)
  36. added 2015-03-25
    Isabelle Eberhardt.Raymond Aaron Younis - 1995 - In Scott Murray (ed.), Australian film 1978-1994. Oxford University Press.
  37. added 2015-03-23
    Oppression and the Human Condition: An Introduction to Sartrean Existentialism.Thomas Martin - 2002 - Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
  38. added 2015-03-22
    Two Dogmas of Sartrean Existentialism.Matthew Eshleman - 2002 - Philosophy Today 46 (5):68-74.
  39. added 2015-03-19
    Reply to Elliott: In Defense of the Good Cause Account.Aaron Smuts - 2013 - Film and Philosophy 17:47-57.
    Jay Elliott raises an important objection to the central claim of my paper "It’s a Wonderful Life: Pottersville and the Meaning of Life.” There I defend the good cause account (GCA) of the meaning of life. GCA holds that one's life is meaningful to the extent that one is causally responsible for objective good. Elliott argues that although GCA correctly implies that George Bailey lives a meaningful life, it might also imply that Potter's life is meaningful. But this is absurd. (...)
  40. added 2015-03-19
    Cinema, Philosophy, Bergman: On Film as Philosophy, by Paisley Livingston.K. Thomson-Jones - 2012 - Mind 121 (484):1095-1099.
  41. added 2015-02-22
    Linklater: Before Sunrise.Raymond Aaron Younis - 1995 - Cinema Papers 104:47-50.
  42. added 2014-12-27
    Runaway Memes.Brendan Shea - 2014 - In Nicolas Michaud & Jessica Watkins (eds.), Jurassic Park and Philosophy: The Truth is Terrifying. Open Court. pp. 29-39.
    Charles Darwin famously argued that that life on earth was not the product of intelligent design, and that it instead had arisen through the entirely natural of process of evolution via natural selection. Darwin’s theory of evolution (together with Mendel’s theory of genetics) now forms the foundation of all the biological sciences. Jurassic Park, however, raises an interesting question: just how does Darwin’s theory apply to lifeforms that are the products of explicit, intelligent design? In this essay, I examine cluster (...)
  43. added 2014-12-27
    You Can't Choose Your Family: Impartial Morality and Personal Obligations in Alias.Brendan Shea - 2014 - In Patricia Brace & Robert Arp (eds.), The Philosophy of J.J. Abrams. The University Press of Kentucky. pp. 173-189.
    In this essay, I critically examine the ways in which the characters of Alias attempt to balance their impartial moral obligations (e.g. duties toward humanity) and their personal obligations (e.g. duties toward one's children). I specifically examine three areas of conflict: (1) choices between saving loved ones and maximizing consequences, (2) choices to maintain or sever relationships with characters who are vicious or immoral, and (3) choices to seek or not seek revenge on the behalf of loved ones. I conclude (...)
  44. added 2014-12-16
    Why Moral Philosophers Should Watch Sci-Fi Movies.Nikil Mukerji - 2014 - In Fiorella Battaglia & Nathalie Weidenfeld (eds.), Roboethics in Film. Pisa University Press. pp. 79-92.
    In this short piece, I explore why we, as moral philosophers, should watch sci-fi movies. Though I do not believe that sci-fi material is ne- cessary for doing good moral philosophy, I give three broad reasons why good sci-fi movies should nevertheless be worth our time. These reasons lie in the fact that they can illustrate moral-philosophical pro- blems, probe into possible solutions and, perhaps most importantly, an- ticipate new issues that may go along with the use of new technologies. (...)
  45. added 2014-11-28
    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). (...)
  46. added 2014-11-07
    Scotland as a Site of Sacrifice.Marmysz John - 2014 - Film International 12 (2):6-17.
    Friedrich Nietzsche delineates three stages of sacrificial behavior. The first stage consists of the sacrifice of particular human beings to a god. The second stage involves the sacrifice of one’s own instincts to a god, and the third stage culminates in the sacrifice of God himself. This last stage describes the death of God and signals the “final cruelty” of our present times. Our age is the age of nihilism, the point in history during which humans “sacrifice God for the (...)
  47. added 2014-09-22
    Philosophy and the Moving Image: Refractions of Reality.John Mullarkey - 2009 - Palgrave-Macmillan.
    Preface : The film-envy of philosophy -- Introduction : nobody knows anything! -- Illustrating manuscripts -- Bordwell and other cogitators -- Žižek and the cinema of perversion -- Deleuze's kinematic philosophy -- Cavell, Badiou and other ontologists -- Extended cognitions and the speeds of cinema -- Fabulation, process and event -- Refractions of reality, or, What is thinking anyway? -- Conclusion : code unknown - a bastard theory for a bastard act.
  48. added 2014-09-05
    The Relevance of Heidegger's Conception of Philosophy for the Film-as-Philosophy Debate.Shawn Loht - forthcoming - Film and Philosophy 19.
    Provides an account of philosophy adopted from Being and Time and later works of Heidegger in order to respond to key questions in the film-as-philosophy debate. I follow the school of Stanley Cavell, Robert Sinnerbrink, and Stephen Mulhall in the view that philosophy occurs in film in phenomenological ways that transcend mere argumentative discourse and logical analysis. Some of the views I counter include those of Bruce Russell and Paisley Livingston.
  49. added 2014-09-05
    Film as Ethical Philosophy and the Question of Philosophical Arguments in Film: A Reading of The Tree of Life.Shawn Loht - 2014 - Film and Philosophy 18.
    Responds to the seminal claim of Bruce Russell that films cannot present philosophical arguments. Provides a reading of The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011) in order to illustrate how this film presents an environmental ethics argument. Some reference to the environmental philosophy of Holmes Rolston III as well as Martin Heidegger.
  50. added 2014-05-08
    Groundhog Day and the Good Life.Diana Abad - 2012 - Film-Philosophy 16 (1):149-164.
    Normal 0 21 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 One of the most important questions of moral philosophy is what makes a life a good life. A good way of approaching this issue is to watch the film Groundhog Day which can teach us a lot about what a good life consists in - and what not. While currently there are subjective and objective theories contending against each other about what a good life is, namely hedonism and desire satisfaction theories on the (...)
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