Murray Smith presents an original approach to understanding film. He brings the arts, humanities, and sciences together to illuminate artistic creation and aesthetic experience. His 'third culture' approach roots itself in an appreciation of scientific innovation and how this has shaped the moving media.
This volume of new essays energizes a growing movement in film theory which questions and seeks to overturn many of the assumptions that have governed film theory for the last twenty years. The book brings together film scholars and philosophers in a united commitment to the standards of argumentation that characterize analytic philosophy rather than a single doctrinal approach. The essays address such topics as authorship, emotion, ideology, representation, and expression in film.
The relevance of Marx’s theory of value and his ‘law of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall’ to the analysis of the financial crisis of 2007–8 and the ensuing global slump is affirmed. The hypertrophic growth of unproductive constant capital, including the wages of ‘socially necessary’ unproductive labour and tax revenues, is identified as an important manifestation of an historical-structural crisis of capitalism, alongside the increasing weight of fictitious capital and the proliferation of fictitious profits in the (...) lead-up to the financial crisis. These phenomena have obscured the deepest roots of the global slump in the long-term profitability problems of productive capital – that is, in a crisis of surplus-value production. With these considerations taken into account, a better empirical assessment of trends in the composition of capital becomes possible, and with it a more accurate understanding of the impact of the ongoing displacement of living labour from production on the average rate of profit and the future of US and global capitalism. (shrink)
In ‘Rethinking Nature,’ Shaun Gallagher makes the case for a non-reductive, naturalized phenomenology. In doing so, he seeks to close the metaphysical gap between world and mind by pursuing a ‘world > mind’ strategy, conforming the natural world to the world of reason and experience. Here I assess the merits of this approach by comparison with the alternative ‘mind > world’ strategy, whereby the the world of reason and experience is conformed to the natural world. This latter approach is exemplified (...) by the method of ‘triangulating’ the mind through the integration of experiential, psychological, and neurophysiological evidence. While sympathetic to Gallagher’s ambition and aspects of his approach, I raise some doubts about the anti- or non-representational model of mind that he believes his revisionist metaphysics of nature supports. Arguably, representational assumptions are built into the concepts of perception, the senses, and the mind itself. Thus, even if the metaphysical gap between mind and world can be closed, the epistemic gap between an agent and its environment must still be bridged by the engine of representation that is the extended and embodied mind. (shrink)
This substantial book presents essays by nineteen authors exploring intersections between film theory and philosophy on topics of representation, authorship, ideology, aesthetics, and emotion. The editors explain that film studies has reached a crisis of method after a growth period founded on structural linguistics, psychoanalysis, and Continental philosophy. They wish to alter this foundation and “give momentum to work in an analytic vein”, which requires them to correct the misconception of analytic philosophy in film studies as narrow and conservative, a (...) “toxic waste dump.”. (shrink)
A symposium on Bence Nanay, Aesthetics as Philosophy of Art and Murray Smith, Film, Art, and the Third Culture. Commentaries on the two books by two critics, followed by responses by the two book authors.
Discussion surrounding Marx's distinction between productive and unproductive labor too often fails to distinguish between the various forms that unproductive labor may assume and is too hasty to subsume the income of workers "unproductively" employed by capital as a non-profit component of social surplus-value. Against this, it may be argued that many forms of unproductive labor are socially necessary to the social capital and are therefore properly viewed as systemic overhead costs. As such, they should be treated, in value-theoretical terms, (...) as elements of the constant capital flow. The implications of this approach are explored for crisis theory and the evolution of the class structure with particular reference to the Canadian experience in this century. (shrink)
The publication last year in New Left Review of Robert Brenner's book-length essay ‘Uneven Development and the Long Downturn: The Advanced Capitalist Economies from Boom to Stagnation, 1950-1998’ has already provoked more discussion and controversy on the socialist Left than any other political-economic analysis in recent memory. Predictably, it has also elicited a number of highly critical response from proponents of Marx's theories of labour value and economic crisis. Amongst other things, Brenner has been charged with a one-sided preoccupation with (...) capital-to-capital relations at the expense of the capital-wage labour relation, with misinterpreting and dismissing Marx's law of the falling tendency of the rate of profit, and with ignoring Marx’s value categories entirely. (shrink)
The idea that human history evinces a pattern of development rooted in the propensity of human beings toward technical forms of rationality is fundamental to Marx's materialist conception of history. Yet the "dialectic of forces and relations of production" as traditionally conceived in historical-materialist discourse has found only weak expressions in social formations dominated by precapitalist modes of production. The hypothesis is advanced that the role of simple commodity production and exchange in such formations may be decisive to the emergence (...) of cognitive faculties capable of giving a systematic impulse to the development of science and technology, and therefore to a precapitalist forces-relations dialectic. This suggests a new way of appreciating Marx's "ranking" of the Asiatic, ancient, feudal and capitalist modes of production as "progressive epochs" in the development of human society, while illuminating the socio-historical provenance (and sources of variability) of the categories of human thought. (shrink)
The controversy surrounding the status of dialectics in Marxist thought has failed to take the full measure of the persistent influence of ontological dualism and its corollary, dualistic social ontology. Yet an explicit critique of dualism is essential to materialist dialectics and to a Marxist-socialist theory and pedagogy that discloses the specific role of capitalist social relations in impeding human progress. A dialectical-monistic ontology associated with Marx's "new" (historical) materialism requires systematic conceptual elaboration, as illuminated by a dialecticalontological triad embracing (...) "the natural," "the social" and "conscious activity." The usefulness of this triad is illustrated by exploring how dialectical-monistic and dualistic ontologies stimulate very different ways of understanding a key question in social theory: the concept of economic value. (shrink)
A few years ago I gave a paper on the aesthetics of ‘noise,’ that is, on the ways in which non-musical sounds can be given aesthetic shape and structure, and thereby form the basis of significant aesthetic experience. Along the way I made reference to Arnold Schoenberg's musical theory, in particular his notion of Klangfarbenmelodie, literally ‘sound colour melody,’ or musical form based on timbre or tonal colour rather than on melody, harmony or rhythm. Schoenberg articulated his ideas about Klangfarbenmelodie (...) in the final section of his Harmonielehre. ‘Pitch is nothing else but tone colour measured in one direction,’ wrote Schoenberg. ‘Now, if it is possible to create patterns out of tone colours that are differentiated according to pitch, patterns we call ‘melodies’…then it must also be possible to make such progressions out of the tone colours of the other dimension, out of that which we simply call “tone colour.”’ In other words, traditional melodies work by abstracting and structuring the dominant pitch characterizing a musical sound, while ‘sound colour melodies’ work, Schoenberg argues, by structuring the combined set of pitches contained in a given musical sound. Schoenberg is emphatic that, although a neglected and underdeveloped possibility within Western classical music, ‘sound colour melody’ is a perfectly legitimate and viable form of musical expression; indeed for Schoenberg it is a musical form with enormous potential. (shrink)
The introduction discusses the influence of two kinds of philosophy to film theory. It describes and clarifies the characteristic methods and strategies of analytic philosophy and film theory, and continental philosophy and film theory. It is concerned with the description of methods, debates, and principles of analytic philosophy with reference to the contributions of philosophy to film theory. It informs and provides indication of issues, methods, and doctrines. It examines, criticizes, and defends the use of exponents of analytic and continental (...) philosophy. All throughout the introduction, it is noted that analytic philosophy is conceived as a pedantic, conservative discipline by scholars of film, media, and culture while continental philosophy is seen as having more imaginative richness and being more focused on moral and ideological issues. However, the aim of analysing film theory is not to stop the pursuit of any specific doctrine but to improve the rigor with its pursuit. (shrink)