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Philosophical Ramble

By: Kim Packard

Created December 2009

Philosophical Top 10 List of Topics for the 21st Century

Philosophical Films, James Fieser’s website University of Tennessee at Martin

Conversation with Stanley Cavell

Does Philosophy Still Matter?- panel discussion
A distinguished panel addresses this question on the occasion of the publication of Professor
James Miller ‘s new book, Examined Lives: From Socrates to Nietzsche. Panelists include Simon Critchley, professor of philosophy at The New School for Social Research and author of The Book of Dead Philosophers; Anthony Gottlieb, author of The Dream of Reason, a three-volume history of philosophy; James Miller, professor of political science and chair of the Committee on Liberal Studies at The New School for Social Research; Astra Taylor, independent filmmaker and director of Zizek! and Examined Life: Philosophy Is in the Streets; and Cornel West, author of Race Matters and Class of 1943 Professor at Princeton University. The panel is moderated by Lewis H. Lapham, editor of Lapham’s Quarterly.

American Philosopher 70-minute documentary with 8 short films by Philip McReynolds

BBC Radio 4 In Our Time Mervyn Bragg hosts discussions on culture, history, philosophy, religion and science … not specifically related to films but valuable for philosophically minded folks.

Mindwalk by Capra

The Truman Show Philosophy Now article

Barton Fink and Nietzsche

A Comparison between the Theories of Marshall McLuhan and two films by
David Cronenberg

“The function of media in society is a subject that has been investigated by media theorist Marshall McLuhan and, in another register, filmmaker David Cronenberg. The theories that Marshall McLuhan proposes in Understanding Media are highly relevant to Cronenberg’s films, as is Cronenberg’s portrayal of mediated societies to McLuhan’s theories. McLuhan and Cronenberg both focus on the relationship between electronic media and the human condition, and the possible affects of this relationship in the social sphere. In this essay I will be discussing the implications of McLuhan’s theoretical understanding of media, as proposed in Understanding Media, comparing these theories to the representation of the mediated society in two films by David Cronenberg. The films I will be discussing are the 1982 release Videodrome and the 1999 release eXistenZ. Both films deal explicitly with media presence in the modern world.” (Rowan Laing)

If a Film Did Philosophy We Wouldn’t Understand It" by Daniel Barnett

From Plato’s Cave to the Multiplex, Chapter 2:Citing Heidegger in The Thin Red Line

Shakespearean Metaphysics
Metaphysics is usually associated with that part of the philosophical tradition which asks about ‘last things’, questions such as: How many substances are there in the world? Which is more fundamental, quantity or quality? Are events prior to things, or do they happen to those things? While he wasn’t a philosopher, Shakespeare was obviously interested in ‘ultimates’ of this sort. Instead of probing these issues with argument, however, he did so with plays. Shakespearean Metaphysics argues for Shakespeare’s inclusion within a metaphysical tradition that opposes empiricism and Cartesian dualism. Through close readings of three major plays – The Tempest, King Lear and Twelfth Night – Witmore proposes that Shakespeare’s manner of depicting life on stage itself constitutes an ‘answer’ to metaphysical questions raised by later thinkers as Spinoza, Bergson, and Whitehead. Each of these readings shifts the interpretative frame around the plays in radical ways; taken together they show the limits of our understanding of theatrical play as an ‘illusion’ generated by the physical circumstances of production.

The Bridge of San Luis Rey
“Is there a direction and meaning in lives beyond the individual’s own will?”

Aguirre, the Wrath of God

Paris, Capital of the 19th Century by Benjamin Bardou

The Legend of 1900—Freedom and the Dialogical Self by David Lantigua, University of South Florida

No Country for Old Men— Partially Examined Life podcast #150

Philosophers on Film: The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Chapter 1

American Beauty and religious experience

Memento and The Extended Mind

Taoist Philosophy in Fight Club

Buddhism in the Matrix

Footnote to Plato-Brain in a Vat Adelaide U. Student Radio May 3, 2011
This week on the show Alistair and Bryan tackled the problem presented in the blockbuster movie, The Matrix. How do we know for sure that the world we perceive around us is anything the real world? That is, if all we know of the world comes in through our senses and all we perceive is a product of electrical activity in the brain, how can we be sure that we are not being fed all this information by a supercomputer? The short answer is…..we can’t!

Even though The Matrix gained huge popularity bringing this question to the masses it turns out the ideas presented in the film are not new. The team managed to trace the idea back to philosopher Hilary Putnam and his thought experiment Brains in Vat. Putnam proposes the scenario that we are just brains in big jars being fed the real world by a supercomputer programmed by an evil scientist. But ideas of this nature stem even further back than the invention of the computer. Back in the 1600s Rene Descartes tackled the same problem. The only difference was that Descartes was concerned that an evil demon was trying to trick him by feeding him false beliefs. Just as Alistair and Bryan were almost convinced that they were in fact brains in vats, Aaron appeared at the door of the studio to throw in his 2 cents.

Philosophy Talk show:Philosophy and Film

Philosophy Talk show:Dionysus Award 2012
To win a Dionysus Award, a movie has to be interesting from a philosophical point of view. It could present a morally complex vision of human life, like The Reader, a winner from a few years ago. It may force us to think about our own prejudices and stereotypes, like District Nine, another previous winner. It may take us to the boundaries of reality, like Inception. Or challenge the line between appearance and reality, like Black Swan.
Philosophy Talk show:Dionysus Award 2011
Philosophy Talk show:Dinoysus Award 2010
Nominations for Dionysus Award 2009

Film and Philosophy, Society for the Philosophic Study of the Contemporary Visual Arts Journal

Film-Philosophy On-Line Journal

Talk to Her — Philosophers on Film series Edited by A. W. Eaton; Published July 31st 2008 by Routledge – 116 pages

Found a link to Philosophical Films ( of Tennessee at Martin?) with discussions and questions on the following films:

American History X
Artificial Intelligence
Being John Malkovich
Blade Runner
The Body (2001) not on The Auteurs as of 12/07/09
The Book of Life
Bowling For Columbine
A Brief History of Time
Children Underground (2001) see below #157
City of Joy (1992) not on The Auteurs as of 12/07/09
A Clockwork Orange
The Corporation
Crimes and Misdemeanors
Devil’s Playground (2002) not on The Auteurs as of 12/07/09
Dogville (2003
The Emperor’s Club (2002) not on The Auteurs as of 12/07/09
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Fast, Cheap and Out of Control
Full Metal Jacket
Gattaca (1997) not on The Auteurs as of 12/07/09
Groundhog Day
Hilary and Jackie (1998) not on The Auteurs as of 12/07/09
I Shot Andy Warhol (1996) not on The Auteurs as of 12/07/09
Leaving Las Vegas (1995) not on The Auteurs as of 12/07/09
The Matrix
Mindwalk (1991) not on The Auteurs as of 12/07/09
Minority Report (2002) not on The Auteurs as of 12/07/09
Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life
Mr. Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred A. Leuchter Jr. (2000)
My Dinner with Andre
Phenomenon (1996) not on The Auteurs as of 12/07/09
Pi: Faith in Chaos
Powder (1995) not on The Auteurs as of 12/07/09
The Quarrel (1991) not on The Auteurs as of 12/07/09
A Question of Faith (2001) not on The Auteurs as of 12/07/09
The Rapture
The Razor’s Edge (1946, 1984) not on The Auteurs as of 12/07/09
Saw II
The Seventh Seal
SLC Punk (1999) not on The Auteurs as of 12/07/09
Solaris (2002 English)
The Swimmer
The Thin Blue Line
The Thirteenth Floor (1999) not on The Auteurs as of 12/07/09
Total Recall
The Trial
The Truman Show (1998): see below #13
The Village (2004) not on The Auteurs as of 12/07/09
Waking Life (2001): see below #2



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Thank YOU for this outstanding list. I possible dont even hear about 20-30 directors. Jinx in that case I'm completly ignorant.

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solar anus


McLuhan and Videodrome have quite a bit in common. ;)

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solar anus


Nice to see Extended Mind Thesis makes an appearance. =)

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