Philosophy, TV, and Film

I have long been a fan of both television and film for their capacity to raise intriguing questions that intersect my twin interests in human nature and technology. My interest is primarily in science fiction, where questions about human nature and technology are explicitly explored. While I have long included film in many of my philosophy courses, I have only recently begun to try and write about film and film philosophy. My latest project examines the television as a resource for imaginative figurations of the posthuman.

This work in progress is a feminist reading of the film Demon Seed.

This is a draft of an essay in which I explore the nature of self and subjectivity in the digital culture through the lens of four films: The Net, Robocop, Johnny Mnemonic, and Ghost in the Shell.

Stephen Mulhall's On Film has received a lot of critical attention for its claim that film can do philosophy. This conference presentation explores that claim, especially in relation to films based on the work of science fiction author Philip K. Dick.

This essay was authored with a former student of mine, Justin Nicholas, and explores Dick's philosophical ruminations through the various film treatments of his text. It appeared in Philip K. Dick and Philosophy, edited by Dylan Wittkower.

A review of Stephen Spielberg's film A.I.

Ruminations on Martin Scorsese's film and what it suggests about human-technology relations. Written with the help of a former student, Justin Nicholas.

Critical posthumanism must come to terms with the place of television as a significant element in post-screen cyberculture. Contemporary accounts of human-technology relations minimize the role of the television in discussions of the posthuman. Media theorists have been more accommodating to television but their analyses often focus exclusively on either the medium or the message, failing to take the full measure of the technology. What is needed is a richer framework leading to a deeper recognition of television’s role in defining a critical posthumanism. This presentation begins to lay the foundation for such a framework.

Even though the television is probably our most ubiquitous and domesticated technology and that we in the U.S. and Europe watch a lot of television (on average four hours a day), the television continues to present challenges to theorists examining technology. At least when they bother to turn to it, for among the dominant approaches and theorists in philosophy of technology, the lowly television seldom rates analysis, its domestic stain perhaps serving to marginalize it from high theory. And while it was supposed to have been swept aside in the digital revolution at the turn of the century, television is still very much with us, its technological form mutating and its content generating a so-called second golden age. In posing the question, “how ought we to treat our televisions?,” I’ll suggest that the television calls forth a transdisciplinary approach to technology that brings into close conversation philosophy of technology and cultural studies. Such an approach would serve to address the lack of attention to culture in philosophy of technology and the lack of normative considerations in cultural studies. Properly caring for our televisions, it is suggested, will prove fruitful to philosophy of technology, cultural studies, and those of us who watch and enjoy our televisions.

In this essay, I explore the contemporary relevance of Dick’s philosophical musings on the “fabulousness” of television through an examination of the competing paradigms of print and screen technologies central to the book and television show The Man in the High Castle.

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