Philosophical film worlds : can films themselves philosophize and if so, how can this be achieved and furthermore interpreted?
The mission and function of this thesis is to generally explore the ways in which philosophy studies and investigates films. More specifically its aim is to examine the theories of Stephen Mulhall and Stanley Cavell, on how films could be regarded as philosophic in nature through philosophy, that films could indeed be independently seen as philosophical excercises in action, film as philosophizing. My goal is to clarify the connection between these two cultural, human endeavours by also having a look at a theory of worldmaking by Nelson Goodman, on how aesthetical art worlds are created and abated. I will try in my thesis to explain why the film as philosophy approach is problematic for philosophy and why on the other hand the theory holds great overall importance for the meaning and function that philosophy is left with related to film in the academic world. I am thus going to also define the border where philosophy stands in relation to film and how it is different from film studies and other such academic disciplines devoted to the study of cinema. The perspective of this thesis is obviously cricitcal and evaluative in nature and contrasting points of views are visibly reviewed, but I shall make it clear that I am in favour of treating movies as not just popular illustrations or handy views and arguments of certain philosophic theories. Instead they should be seen as making real contributions to the philosophical discipline. As such I strongly argue that different cinematic worlds can have philosophical proportions to them and can themselves not only utilize philosophical imagery, problems and questions but may also create new and scintillating answers or at least find new, meaningful philosophical questions and thus make definite contributions to such ongoing philosophical discourse – though the scope and validity of such claims can only be verified within each specific discursive context and dialogic debate. An understanding of different philosophical aspects of movies should accrue through critical interpretations of specific films and specific achievements of film. It does however remain that to argue that films make contributions to philosophy itself is something of a hard row to till and a tough argument to fill. The problematic nature of defining what philosophy is in the first place and what it means to do philosophy remains. To further explain and investigate the film as philosophy approach I will look at an 80´s science-fiction Hollywood movie Blade Runner and try to show the reader how philosophy can arguably be done in movies. It has to be noted that I am are here not giving agency to films, although I am saying that the people doing movies can be seen to ”screen” philosophical exercises. Moreover, I believe that Mulhall and Cavell are trying to show us not what philosophy is, but what is should or at least could be. ...
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- Pro gradu -tutkielmat