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Film and Philosophy - PHL365

What can philosophy teach us about cinema? What can cinema show us about philosophy? This unit explores these questions by investigating philosophical, aesthetic, and ethical aspects of our engagement with cinema. Rather than treating film as an illustration of theories or ideas, we examine how film itself can explore philosophical problems in visual and narrative terms. We begin with the problems of cinematic representation, visual perception, and the ontology of the moving image. We analyse how film represents our subjective experience by exploring the phenomenology of perception and movement, emotional engagement and time-consciousness, moral psychology and ethical transformation. We study how films can express moral ideas, stage philosophical ‘thought experiments’, focusing on the provocative claim that films can 'do philosophy' by cinematic means. We consider how narrative and documentary film can contribute to our understanding of love and happiness, personal and cultural identity, environmental challenges and globalisation. Finally, we examine recent developments in film-philosophy—spanning phenomenological and cognitivist approaches—responding to digital media and the aesthetics of long-form television series. Overall, the unit aims to show not only how philosophy can help us understand film but how cinema can help us become more imaginative and ethical thinkers.

Credit Points: 3
When Offered:

S1 Day - Session 1, North Ryde, Day

S1 Online - Session 1, Online

Staff Contact(s): Associate Professor Robert Sinnerbrink

(39cp at 100 level or above) or admission to GDipArts Prerequisite Information


NCCW(s): PHIL365, PHI350, PHIX365
Unit Designation(s):
Unit Type:
Assessed As: Graded
Offered By:

Department of Philosophy

Faculty of Arts

Course structures, including unit offerings, are subject to change.
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