The Philosophy of David Cronenberg

Overview

Initially regarded as a cult figure with a strong following amongst sci-fi and horror film fans, Canadian filmmaker David Cronenberg emerged as a major and commercially viable film director with mainstream hits such as A History of Violence (2005) and Eastern Promises (2007). With his unique ability to present imagery that is both disturbing and provocative, Cronenberg creates striking films, noteworthy not just for their cinematic beauty but also for the philosophical questions...
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The Philosophy of David Cronenberg

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Overview

Initially regarded as a cult figure with a strong following amongst sci-fi and horror film fans, Canadian filmmaker David Cronenberg emerged as a major and commercially viable film director with mainstream hits such as A History of Violence (2005) and Eastern Promises (2007). With his unique ability to present imagery that is both disturbing and provocative, Cronenberg creates striking films, noteworthy not just for their cinematic beauty but also for the philosophical questions they raise.

The Philosophy of David Cronenberg examines Cronenberg's body of work, from his breakthrough Scanners (1981) through his most recognizable films such as The Fly (1986) and more recent works. Editor Simon Riches and a collaboration of scholars introduce the filmmaker's horrific storylines and psychologically salient themes that reveal his pioneering use of the concept of "body horror," as well as his continued aim to satirize the modern misuse of science and technology. The Philosophy of David Cronenberg also explores the mutation of self, authenticity and the human mind, as well as language and worldviews. While Cronenberg's films have moved from small-market cult classics to mainstream successes, his intriguing visions of humanity and the self endure.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Keith Allen is Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of York. He was a Research Fellow at the Institute of Philosophy, London, and studied philosophy at University College London and the University of Cambridge. His research interests include the philosophy of perception, the nature of color, and the history of philosophy.

Cynthia Freeland is professor and chair of the Philosophy Department at the University of Houston. She is author of The Naked and the Undead: Evil and the Appeal of Horror (Westview, 1999) and co-editor (with Thomas Wartenberg) of Philosophy and Film (Routledge, 1991). Her articles "Feminist Frameworks for Horror Films", and "Realist Horror" have been anthologized several times. Other film articles include "Horror and Art-Dread", in The Horror Film (Rutgers, 2004), and "The Sublime in Cinema," in Passionate Views (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999). Freeland has also authored books on topics in ancient philosophy, feminism, and art theory.

Jones Irwin is a Lecturer in Philosophy and Education at St Patrick's College, Dublin City University. He has previously taught at the University of Warwick and at Mary Immaculate College, Limerick. His research interests are in philosophy of education, political philosophy and aesthetics. He is the editor of War and Virtual War (2004) and with Diane Powell of Interculturalism: Theoretical and Empirical Perspectives (forthcoming). In 2008/09, he is Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Philosophy, Literature and the Arts at University of Warwick, UK.

Peter Ludlow is a professor of philosophy at Northwestern University. He has done much interdisciplinary work on the interface of linguistics and philosophy and has also established a research program on conceptual issues in cyberspace, particularly questions about cyber-rights and the emergence of laws and governance structures in and for virtual communities. He has also written on topics in aesthetics that intersect with popular culture, including fan fiction and the ontology of virtual worlds.

Colin McGinn is professor of philosophy at the University of Miami. He has made major contributions to various areas of philosophy, most notably in the philosophy of mind. Amongst many notable publications, he is the author of The Character of Mind (1982, OUP), Knowledge and Reality (1998, OUP), The Making of a Philosopher (2002, HarperCollins), and The Power of Movies (2005, Pantheon).

Daniel Moseley is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He completed his Ph.D. in Philosophy at the University of Virginia in May 2010, where he wrote a dissertation entitled "The Virtues of Integrity". Moseley is also featured in the comical documentary The Parking Lot Movie (2010), which premiered at the South by Southwest Film Festival and received strong reviews from the New York Times and NPR.

R. Barton Palmer is the Calhoun Lemon Professor of Literature at Clemson University, where he also serves as director of the film studies program. Palmer is the author, editor, or general editor of more than forty books on various literary and cinematic subjects, including most recently (with Robert Bray) Hollywood's Tennessee: the Williams Films and Postwar America, To Kill a Mockingbird: The Relationship Between the Text and the Film, (with David Boyd) After Hitchcock: Imitation, Influence, and Intertextuality, and Joel and Ethan Coen. He has contributed essays to many of the volumes in the Philosophy and Popular Culture series and is the co-editor, with Steven Sanders, of the forthcoming The Philosophy of Steven Soderbergh.

Brook W. R. Pearson received his PhD in 2000 from the University of Surrey, in Philosophy, Classics and Religious Studies (published in 2001 as Corresponding Sense, Leiden: Brill). Formerly Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at Roehampton University, London, he is now teaching in the Department of Humanities at Simon Fraser University in Canada. He is currently editing the unpublished works of the analytical philosopher John Wisdom at the Wren Library of Trinity College Cambridge, and is very interested in the relations between philosophy, film and psychoanalysis.

Duncan Pritchard holds the Chair in Epistemology at the University of Edinburgh. Previously, he was Professor of Philosophy at the University of Stirling. His main research area is epistemology, and he has published widely in this area, including Epistemic Luck (Oxford University Press, 2005), What is this Thing Called Knowledge? (Routledge, 2006), and Knowledge (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009). He is presently working on a book on the value of knowledge with Alan Millar and Adrian Haddock.

Simon Riches is Research Associate at the Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, and teaches philosophy at Heythrop College, University of London. He holds a PhD in philosophy from University College London and has previously taught in their philosophy department. He also studied philosophy at the University of Southampton and psychology at the University of East London. His research interests lie in epistemology and the philosophy of psychology. He is a contributing author in UPKY's The Philosophy of David Lynch.

Daniel Shaw is Professor of Philosophy and Film at Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania. He is managing editor of the print journal Film and Philosophy, and has co-edited an anthology on the philosophy of horror entitled Dark Thoughts: Philosophic Reflections on Cinematic Horror. His monograph for the Wallflower Press Short Cuts series, Film and Philosophy: Taking Movies Seriously is now available.

Paul F. Snowdon is Grote Professor of Mind and Logic at University College London. Before that he was a Fellow and Lecturer at Exeter College Oxford. He has written about the philosophy of mind, metaphysics, epistemology, and the history of philosophy.

Graham Stevens is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Manchester. He is the author of The Russellian Origins of Analytical Philosophy (Routledge, 2005) and has published numerous articles on various topics in philosophy of language, metaphysics, and philosophical logic. He is currently writing a book on definite descriptions." —

"It's a book that Cronenberg fans are boung to enjoy, and readers only moderately familiar with Cronenberg will find incentive to become more deeply immersed in this iconoclastic and cutting-edge writer and director."—David Baggett, editor of Tennis and Philosophy: What the Racket is All About" —

"Fans of Cronenberg's critically-acclaimed films will find this book an excellent guide to exploring the depths of the philosophical, psychological, and literary themes that have characterized his work."—Jason Eberl, coauthor of Star Trek and Philosophy" —

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Simon Riches is a researcher at the Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London. He previously taught philosophy at University College London and Heythrop College, University of London. He holds a PhD in philosophy from University College London and has also studied philosophy at the University of Southampton and psychology at the University of East London. His research interests lie in epistemology and the philosophy of psychology. He is a contributing author in UPKY's The Philosophy of David Lynch.

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Table of Contents

Introduction Simon Riches 1

Part 1 Body Horror and Bodily Transformation

The Fly and the Human: Ironies of Disgust Colin McGinn 9

Tragedy and Terrible Beauty in A History of Violence and Eastern Promises Cynthia Freeland 24

Cronenberg as Scientist: Antiessentialism, Sex as Remixing, and the View from Nowhere Peter Ludlow 36

What Happens to Brundle? Problems of Teleportation and Personal Identity in The Fly Paul F. Snowdon 53

Part 2 Psychology, Skepticism, and the Self

eXistenZial Angst Duncan Pritchard 69

"Freaks of Nature": Extrasensory Perception and the Paranormal in the Films of David Cronenberg Keith Allen 77

Deception and Disorder: Unraveling Cronenberg's Divided Minds Simon Riches 91

Psychological Determinism in the Films of David Cronenberg Daniel Shaw 113

Self-Creation, Identity, and Authenticity: A Study of A History of Violence and Eastern Promises Daniel Moseley 125

Part 3 Words and Worldviews

The Fiction of Truth in Fiction: Some Reflections on Semantics and eXistenZ Graham Stevens 143

Re(ct)ifying Empty Speech: Cronenberg and the Problem of the First Person Brook W. R. Pearson 155

The Politics of Mad Science in The Fly and Dead Ringers R. Barton Palmer 175

From "Impassioned Morality" to "Bloodless Agnosticism": A Philosophy of David Cronenberg through the Burroughs/Ballard Axis Jones Irwin 197

List of Contributors 217

Index 221

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