Skip to main content

Instructor: Rory Hanlon. This course meets TR 3:30 – 4:45 p.m. in CW 105.

Film has been the central artistic medium of the modern world, influencing and reflecting the values of our time, while also exploring perennial aspects of the human condition. Movies then present powerful avenues through which to engage with our deepest and most enduring philosophical questions, such as: How can we be free if we are subject to the laws of nature? How can we know anything with certainty? What is a just political community, especially in the face of historical oppression? What features make a life meaningful and happy? We will also look at questions raised by the nature of the medium of film itself, both general (e.g., do we see reality when we watch a film?) and specific to particular genres (e.g., why do we watch films that scare us?) To explore these questions, we will watch and discuss a wide selection of films, from The Third Man to Blade Runner to Do the Right Thing; we will examine how philosophers themselves have engaged directly with those films; and we will study philosophical texts, both historical and contemporary, that address questions raised by those films.


Prerequisite: 1 PHIL course.