Doing Philosophy at the Movies

By Richard A. Gilmore

Subjects: Philosophy, Film Studies, Aesthetics
Paperback : 9780791463925, 195 pages, March 2005
Hardcover : 9780791463918, 195 pages, March 2005

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Table of contents



Introduction: What It Means to Do Philosophy

1. John Ford's The Searchers as an Allegory of the Philosophical Search

2. A The Usual Suspects Moment in Vertigo: The Epistemology of Identity

3. The American Sublime in Fargo

4. Visions of Meaning: Seeing and Non-Seeing in Woody Allen's Crimes and Misdemeanors

5. Oedipus Techs: Time Travel as Redemption in The Terminator and 12 Monkeys

6. Into the Toilet: Some Classical Aesthetic Themes Raised by a Scene in Trainspotting

7. Horror and Death at the Movies

Conclusion: The Dialectics of Interpretation



Explores philosophical ideas through an examination of popular film.


Doing Philosophy at the Movies finds the roots of profound philosophical ideas in the relatively ordinary context of popular, mostly Hollywood, movies. Richard A. Gilmore suggests that narratives of popular films like Hitchcock's Vertigo, John Ford's The Searchers, Woody Allen's Crimes and Misdemeanors, the Coen Brothers' Fargo, and Danny Boyle's Trainspotting mirror certain epiphanies in the works of great philosophers. Via Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, and Zðizûek, Gilmore addresses such themes as the nature of philosophy, the possibility of redemption through love, catharsis, the sublime, and the human problem of death. Gilmore argues that seeing these movies through the lens of certain philosophical ideas can show how deeply relevant both philosophy and the movies can be.

Richard A. Gilmore is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Concordia College and the author of Philosophical Health: Wittgenstein's Method in "Philosophical Investigations."