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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Centre for Open Learning : Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences

Undergraduate Course: Filmosophy: Film and Philosophy (LLLI08001)

Course Outline
SchoolCentre for Open Learning CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 8 (Year 2 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis Edinburgh International Summer School (EISS) course examines key philosophical issues through their treatment in contemporary cinema, as well as issues regarding the nature of film itself. Using a diverse range of films, we will learn what film can contribute to philosophy, and how philosophy can contribute to our enjoyment and understanding of film.
Course description Indicative syllabus (topics and screenings may be subject to change)

Initial meeting
Introductions; course guidance and housekeeping
Introductory lecture on Film as art

Carroll, N., 2008. The Philosophy of Motion Pictures. Oxford: Blackwell, Chapter 1.

1. Plato and Cinema
Screening: The Conformist [Il conformista] (Bertolucci, Italy, 1970)
Seminar: Plato¿s Cave

Falzon, C. Philosophy Goes to the Movies. London; New York: Routledge, pp.17-25.

2. Scepticism
Screening: Open Your Eyes [Abre los ojos] (Amenábar, Spain, 1997)
Seminar: Descartes¿ Meditations

Litch, M., 2012. Philosophy Through Film. 2nd ed. Abingdon, Oxon; New York: Routledge, Chapter 1.

3. Personal Identity 1
Screening: Memento (Nolan 2000)
Seminar: The Puzzle of Personal Identity

Cox, D. and Levine, M.P., 2012. Thinking Through Film: doing philosophy, watching movies. London; Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, Chapter 8.

4. Personal Identity 2
Screening: Moon (Jones 2009)
Seminar: Parfit¿s Rejection of Identity

Litch, M., 2015. Philosophy Through Film. 3rd ed. Abingdon, Oxon; New York: Routledge, Chapter 3.

Assessment Workshop
Guidance on assignments

5. Memory
Screening: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Seminar: Memory and human integrity

Grau, C. "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" and the Morality of Memory, The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Vol. 64, No. 1, pp. 119-133¿.

6. Moral Philosophy
Screening: Crimes and Misdemeanors (Allen, USA, 1989)
Seminar: Plato¿s Ring of Gyges

Gilmore, R.A. 2005. Doing Philosophy at the Movies. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, Chapter 4.

7. Philosophy of Time Travel
Screening: Timecrimes [Los Cronocrimenes] (Vigalondo, Spain, 2008)
Seminar: The Paradoxes of Time Travel

Lewis, D. 1976. The Paradoxes of Time Travel. American Philosophical Quarterly, 13. pp. 145-152.

8. Realist Horror
Screening: Funny Games (Haneke, Austria, 1997/ USA, 2007)
Seminar: The Paradox of (Realist) Horror

Cox, D. and Levine, M.P., 2012. Thinking Through Film: doing philosophy, watching movies. London; Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, Chapter 9.

The final four screenings will provide the opportunity for open discussion on the themes addressed.

9. Freedom
Three Colours: Blue [Trois coleurs: Bleu] (Kieslokski, France, 1993)

10. Guilt
Hidden [Caché] (Haneke, France, 2005)

11. Authenticity
Dogtooth [Kynodontas] (Giorgos Lanthimos, Greece, 2009)

12. Human nature
Screening: Bad Boy Bubby (de Heer, Australia, 1993)

Course Review
Summary; feedback and final assessment guidance
Reflections on the possibility of film as philosophy

The principle aim of this course is to do philosophy with film and to think about film philosophically. It will provide an overview of core philosophical ideas and concepts from the perspective of classical and contemporary work in philosophy and scholarship in philosophy and film. Throughout the course, the question of how films can illustrate and advance philosophical ideas, as well as their potential limitations, will be key.

The course will examine the intersection between philosophy and film and will consider three distinct yet interrelated approaches.
1. Philosophy of Film addresses classical issues on the nature of film, such as: film as art, the ontology of film, and film and emotion.
2. Philosophy through Film considers philosophical arguments and ideas through their treatment in film.
3. Film as Philosophy claims that films, rather than being mere vehicles for philosophical ideas, may themselves be considered works of philosophy.

Topics covered will range from Plato's Cave to the Paradox of Horror and will feature films by Woody Allen, Michael Haneke, and many more.

Each of the topics covered will include a screening and lecture/ seminar. The screenings will introduce students to a range of classic and contemporary films, each providing a filmic insight into the topic. Lectures/ seminars will introduce the philosophical area in question and combine discussion of the film with critical engagement with relevant texts. In the final week, the lecture/ seminars will be replaced by open discussions of screened films. Students will be provided with all essential reading/ viewing and recommendations for further study.

During the course, students will contribute to a collaborative blog on film and philosophy, which will make up 25% of the overall course mark. The remaining 75% of the overall course mark will be by way of 2000 word essay, submitted electronically after the end of the course. There will be workshops on both assessments during the course.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Additional Costs Course text(s)
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Think analytically about film
  2. Explain the various relationships between film and philosophy
  3. Apply a range of philosophical theories/ perspectives to film
  4. Demonstrate an understanding of philosophical concepts/ issues conveyed through film
  5. Consider what it means for a film to do philosophy
Reading List
Indicative reading list

Carel, H. and Tuck, G., eds., 2011. New Takes in Film-Philosophy. London: Palgrave MacMillan.
Carroll, N., 2008. The Philosophy of Motion Pictures. Oxford: Blackwell.
Carroll, N. and Choi, J., eds. 2006. The Philosophy of Film and Motion Pictures: an Anthology. Oxford: Blackwell.
Cox, D. and Levine, M.P., 2012. Thinking Through Film: doing philosophy, watching movies. London; Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.
Falzon, C., 2015. Philosophy Goes to the Movies: an introduction to philosophy. 3rd ed. Abingdon, Oxon; New York: Routledge.
Freeland, C.A. and Wartenberg, T.E, eds., 1995. Philosophy and Film. London; New York: Routledge.
Fumerton, R. and Jeske, D, eds., 2009. Introducing Philosophy though Film. Oxford; New York: Wiley-Blackwell.
Gaut, B., 2010. A Philosophy of Cinematic Art. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Litch, M., 2015. Philosophy Through Film. 3rd ed. Abingdon, Oxon; New York: Routledge.
Livingston, P. and Plantinga, C., eds., 2009. The Routledge Companion to Philosophy and Film. Abingdon, Oxon; New York: Routledge.
Shaw, D., 2008. Film and Philosophy: Taking Movies Seriously. London: Wallflower Press.
Sinnerbrink, R., 2011. New Philosophies of Film: thinking images. London; New York: Continuum.
Smith, M. and Wartenberg, T.E., eds., 2006. Thinking through Cinema: Film as Philosophy. Oxford: Blackwell.
Wartenberg, T.E. and Curran, A., eds., 2005. The Philosophy of Film: Introductory Text and Readings. Oxford: Blackwell
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Interdisciplinary/ cross-disciplinary skills
Visual analysis
Critical analysis of text
Participation in seminar discussion
Academic essay writing
Special Arrangements University of Edinburgh students will not receive credit for this course.
Study Abroad N/A
KeywordsFilm Philosophy Cinema Aesthetics Movies
Course organiserMr James Mooney
Tel: (0131 6)50 3077
Course secretaryMiss Jennifer Tempski
Tel: (0131 6)51 4836
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