Steven Spielberg and Philosophy: We're Gonna Need a Bigger Book

Overview

Without question, few directors have had such a powerful influence on the film industry and the moviegoing public as Steven Spielberg. Often referred to as the most successful American filmmaker of all time, Spielberg has been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director six times, winning twice-for Schindler's List in 1994 and Saving Private Ryan in 1999. Seven of his films have received the Best Picture Oscar nomination. He has brought to life some of the most popular heroes of all time, such as Indiana ...
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Overview

Without question, few directors have had such a powerful influence on the film industry and the moviegoing public as Steven Spielberg. Often referred to as the most successful American filmmaker of all time, Spielberg has been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director six times, winning twice-for Schindler's List in 1994 and Saving Private Ryan in 1999. Seven of his films have received the Best Picture Oscar nomination. He has brought to life some of the most popular heroes of all time, such as Indiana Jones, as well as some of the most despised villains, including Amon Goeth from Schindler's List and the killer shark from Jaws. Whatever the subject-dinosaurs, war, extra-terrestrials, slavery, the Holocaust, or terrorism-one clear and consistent touchstone is present in all of Spielberg's films: an interest in the human condition. In Steven Spielberg and Philosophy, Dean A. Kowalski and some of the nation's most respected philosophers investigate Spielberg's art to illuminate the nature of humanity. The book explores rich themes such as cinematic realism, fictional belief, terrorism, family ethics, consciousness, virtue and moral character, human rights, and religion in Spielberg's work. Avid moviegoers and deep thinkers will discover plenty of common ground in this collection.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"With the exception of Martin Scorsese, perhaps no other contemporary filmmaker garners more academic attention than Spielberg, proving — as this book so aptly demonstrates — that his films serve as more than vehicles of entertainment." —Choice" —

"Kowalski provides film scholars with a new means of analyzing Spielberg's canon while introducing the novice student of philosophy to the basic tenets of philosophical thought through the use of popular culture." —Choice" —

"A fresh, entertaining way to learn about philosophy through the ever-popular world of film." — Choice" —

"At its heart, Steven Spielberg and Philosophy is a work that questions how the reader views Spielberg as a director, his various films, and even life itself. For these reasons alone, it is deserving of a spot on your bookshelf." —Ryan McKnight, Film Matters" —

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813125275
  • Publisher: University Press of Kentucky
  • Publication date: 10/1/2008
  • Series: The Philosophy of Popular Culture
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Dean A. Kowalski is associate professor of philosophy at the University of Wisconsin-Waukesha. He is editor of The Philosophy of The X-Files and author of Classic Questions and Contemporary Film: An Introduction to Philosophy.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

Introduction Dean A. Kowalski 1

Part I Philosophy, the Filmmaker, and the Human Condition

The "Big-Little" Film and Philosophy: Two Takes on Spielbergian Innocence Gary Arms Thomas Riley 7

The Recovery of Childhood and the Search for the Absent Father Michel Le Gall Charles Taliaferro 38

Levinasian Ethics of Alterity: The Face of the Other in Spielberg's Cinematic Language John W. Wright 50

The Paradox of Fictional Belief and Its Moral Implications in Jaws Christopher R. Trogan Dean A. Kowalski 69

A.I.: Artificial Intelligence and the Tragic Sense of Life Timothy Dunn 82

Part II Values, Virtue, and Justice

What Is Wrong with Cloning a Dinosaur? Jurassic Park and Nature as a Source of Moral Authority James H. Spence 97

Is Oskar Schindler a Good Man? Roger P. Ebertz 112

A Spielbergian Ethics of the Family in Saving Private Ryan and The Color Purple Robert R. Clewis 129

Human Rights, Human Nature, and Amistad David Baggett Mark W. Foreman 150

Terrorism, Counterterrorism, and "The Story of What Happens Next" in Munich Joseph J. Foy 170

Part III Realism, Mind, and Metaphysics

Spielberg and Cinematic Realism Keith Dromm 191

A.I.: Artificial Intelligence: Artistic Indulgence or Advanced Inquiry? V. Alan White 210

Minority Report, Molinism, and the Viability of Precrime Dean A. Kowalski 227

Appendix: Discussing Five Spielberg Films 248

Contributors 267

Index 271

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