Movies provide fertile ground for exploring big philosophical questions.
For example: What can we really know? Do we have free will? What does it take to be a person? What is the nature of time?
This course (a version of Professor Slater’s Belief & Reality course*) will give you the philosophical tools to begin considering possible answers to these questions. Through readings drawn from classic and contemporary texts, we will explore the ways in which modern film — particularly science fiction — engages with ideas that are centuries, even millennia old. Instruction will be online and will be based on a series of interactive lecture modules that you can engage with either at scheduled times or at other times you find convenient as well as live group discussions via Zoom.
While it’s of course fun to talk about the big, abstract philosophical questions these films bring out, the course will also help you develop intellectual skills increasingly in demand in a rapidly changing world, including your ability to think logically and creatively about complex or abstract problems, constructing and evaluating arguments, reading difficult texts critically, asking insightful questions, writing clearly and incisively, and engaging in fruitful group discussions.
* Note: Because of the topical / reading overlap with recent editions of PHIL 100: Belief & Reality, students who have already taken Belief & Reality will not be able to receive credit for Philosophy in Film this summer. By the same token, students who take this iteration of Philosophy in Film may not be able to receive credit for future iterations of Belief & Reality (check with me to confirm, as actual topics differ from semester to semester). However, other named versions of PHIL 100 can be taken for credit (for example: a Philosophy Minor could include PHIL 100: Philosophy in Film, PHIL 100: Law, Morality, and Society, and two 200-level courses).
Films to be screened (tentative)
Films will be made available on Moodle to watch when students find it convenient; optionally, students will be able to join synchronized "viewing parties" on Wednesday evenings to engage in a group chat during the screening.