Film and Philosophy - a course for PhD students

Film and Philosophy

A course for PhD students, open for BA and MA students

Centre for Ethics as Study in Human Value,  Department of Philosophy, University of Pardubice

Fall 2018

This course aims to: (i) elucidate what it means to think philosophically about film, (ii) to think about the relationship between film and philosophy, (iii) to critically examine the philosophical significance of films in terms of how, for example, how films portray and convey emotions, knowledge and how films may induce changes of beliefs more generally. We will also discuss how philosophical problems are portrayed and processed in films.

Themes that will be discussed include the nature of film and the specificity of film as a medium; the way that films may be said to argue philosophically, and the relationships between thought, language, and the moving image. A recurring theme will be what the philosophical value of films are. During the course, central philosophical topics such as philosophy of mind, memory, personal identity, forgiveness, and many different varieties of moral philosophy will be discussed. We will alternate between philosophical texts about film and aesthetics, films, and classical philosophical texts that do not directly speak about film (whereas the films we watch together indeed may “speak” about topics discussed in the classical philosophical texts).

Monday October 1, 14-16
Lecture: Introduction. The photograph and the moving image.

Wednesday October 3, 14-16
Lecture: What is a movie? Learning from film, philosophizing with films

Monday, October 8, 14-16
Lecture: Bladerunner and the Idea of a Soulless Human Being. Illuminating the Mind/Body problem in a Movie Theatre

Monday October 8, 18-20
Film screening: Bladerunner, Director’s Cut, directed by Ridley Scott, 1992 [1982].

Wednesday October 10, 14-16

Monday October 15, 14-16
Lecture: The difficulties of philosophy

Monday October 15, 18-20
Film Screening: Ordet (“The Word”), directed by Carl Th. Dreyer, 1955.

Wednesday October 17, 14-16
Seminar Discussion

Monday October 29, 14-16
Lecture: Memory, Love and Personal Identity

Monday October 29, 18-20
Film Screening: The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Wednesday October 31, 14-16
Seminar Discussion

Monday November 5, 14-16
Lecture: Forgiveness

Monday November 5, 18-20
Film Screening: Le fils (“The Son”), dir. Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, 2002.

Wednesday November 7, 14-16

Monday November 12, 14-16
Lecture: Moral perfectionism

Monday November 12, 18-20
Film Screening: Philadelphia Story

Wednesday November 14, 14-16

Monday November 19, 14-16
Lecture: Critical theory

Monday November 19, 18-20
Film Screening: Martha, dir. R. W. Fassbinder, 1974.

Wednesday November 21, 14-16

Monday November 26, 14-16
Concluding Discussion



Course examination consists of writing an essay of approximately 10 pages + 80% attendance at lectures and seminars (film screenings are excluded from this rule). That means that out of the 15 lectures and seminars, one needs to attend to 12. (If one misses more lectures and/or seminars, one will get an extra assignment.) Students are also expected to actively engage in the discussion during the seminars.