Transformational Ethics of Film-Philosophy: Thinking the Cinemakeover

Rossouw, M. P., 2019, [Groningen]: University of Groningen. 331 p.

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  • Martin Paul Rossouw
What is ‘the good’ of the film experience? And how is this question answered by the prevalent theoretical notion that films can act as a form of philosophy? This doctoral thesis opens up a new ethical plane within the now maturing debate on ‘film as philosophy’ and the project of ‘film-philosophy’ more generally. The central claim is that philosophers value films-as-philosophy just as much for purposes of personal transformation as they do for philosophy per se. Whenever philosophers argue that films ‘do philosophy’ or ‘think’ in a cinematic way, they often suggest, or imply, practical, transformational benefits that such films hold for the viewer. Films may renew our thinking, sharpen our senses, and even reconstitute our experience of the world. In order to explore this motive of personal transformation in the field, this thesis first develops an analytical framework with which to articulate the notion of transformational ethics of film, to subsequently unravel the many expressions that such ethics finds in film-philosophy. Second, a range of case studies, dedicated to a range of film philosophers who deal differently with the question of ‘film as philosophy’, demonstrates how these differing approaches each cast their own vision of the viewer’s potential self-transformation through film. This allows to ascertain film philosophers’ interpretative pathways, their ethical assumptions, and implicit value-attributions — doing so as a plea for proactive meta-critical reflection on the project of construing films as philosophy. Ultimately, this thesis exemplifies the potential benefit of such meta-hermeneutical and ethical reflections: it shows how a seemingly abstract debate about film as philosophy sets a definite agenda for the everyday, ethical significance that we attach to viewing films. That is to say, film-philosophy gives us the material with which to piece together what we may think of as an inner makeover through cinema – a ‘cinemakeover’.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Oever, van den, Annie, Supervisor
  • Korthals Altes, Liesbeth, Supervisor
  • Human, Suzanne, Supervisor, External person
  • Pisters, Patricia , Assessment committee, External person
  • Waal, van der, Margriet, Assessment committee
  • Wartenberg, T.E. , Assessment committee, External person
  • Sinnerbrink, R., Assessment committee, External person
Award date28-Mar-2019
Place of Publication[Groningen]
Print ISBNs978-94-034-1541-3
Electronic ISBNs978-94-034-1540-6
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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