Philosofilm: towards a cinematic philosophy
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This dissertation examines existing attempts to answer the question "Can film philosophize?" (the"CFP question") and offers an original, affirmative account of the possibility of philosophizing by means of film. Focusing OD. narrative fiction films, this dissertation shows how the practice of philosophy can be transformed, and its powers expanded, through its encounter with the realm of moving images. The first chapter presents the groundwork for such a discussion, laying bare the scope of the various theoretical bases through which film and philosophy have been thought to intersect. The chapter follows the threads of extant discussions, from (a) explicitly philosophical approaches to film ("philosophy of film") to (b) in-depth studies of film's thematic constructs ("film theory") and (c) proposals of the symmetry or even fusion of film and philosophy ("film-philosophy"). Each of the three subsequent chapters addresses one of three possible answers to the CFP question.Chapter two focuses on a conservative approach ("the exclusivist thesis") that negates the possibility of any meaningful philosophical capacity in film. Chapter three considers a more moderate view ("the inclusivist thesis") that acknowledges the cinematic capacity for philosophical argumentation, in a manner that is unique, but only partial. The fourth and last chapter introduces an innovative perspective ("the integralist thesis") that countenances a unique cinematic potential to philosophize by insisting on a radical conception of the practice of philosophy itself. To reach this ultimate conclusion, the dissertation elaborates two crucial features of film - the non-linguistic nature of its narrative and the role played by the audience in film - and shows that exclusivists and inclusivists fail to take these features into consideration (largely owing to the principles from which these theorists set out to answer the CFP question). Exclusivists and inclusivists argue that film cannot philosophize (at least not properly) because philosophizing is an essentially linguistic endeavor and film is not.If, however, those crucial features are taken into account, it becomes apparent that exclusivist and inclusivist approaches alike are fatally flawed. The dissertation concludes, in conversation with the integralists, with an affirmation of film's philosophical potential.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Boston University
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