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PHI 105 — Philosophy and Film: Great Ideas in Blade Runner, A Clockwork Orange, Vertigo, and More

Quarter: Spring
Day(s): Wednesdays
Course Format: Live Online (About Formats)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Apr 3—Jun 5
Time: 7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Refund Deadline: Apr 5
Units: 2
Tuition: $550
Instructor(s): Frederick M. Dolan
Class Recording Available: Yes
Status: Open
ACCESS THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Live Online(About Formats)
7:00—8:50 pm (PT)
Apr 3—Jun 5
10 weeks
Refund Date
Apr 5
2 Units
Frederick M. Dolan
ACCESS THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
The topics of some of the greatest philosophers—the nature of reality, the limits to knowledge, the origin of good and evil, the problem of power—are also the themes of some of the best films. This course will explore philosophical ideas and problems as they arise in various films by pairing texts with films. A few examples: Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner with Descartes and Donald Davidson for and against skepticism regarding the reliability of our beliefs about the external world; Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange with Hobbes vs. Rousseau on human nature and the role of government; Joseph Losey’s The Servant with Hegel’s dialectic of master and slave; Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo with Plato and Martha Nussbaum on love. We’ll also devote some time to the philosophy of film: theories of the nature of film as an art form and film criticism as a mode of interpretation.

By the end of the course, students will have been introduced to a wide range of topics in epistemology and philosophy of mind, metaphysics, theology, perception, ethical and political philosophy, and aesthetics and will have gained insights into some very good films.

Students will watch assigned films outside of class. All films can be rented or streamed through Netflix, Amazon Prime, iTunes, Google Play, and other online platforms.

Professor of Rhetoric, Emeritus, UC Berkeley

Frederick M. Dolan’s interests include political and moral philosophy, theories of interpretation, and aesthetics and the philosophy of art. He received a PhD from Princeton.

Textbooks for this course:

There are no required textbooks; however, some fee-based online readings may be assigned.