Shadow Philosophy : Plato's Cave and Cinema
Shadow Philosophy: Plato’s Cave and Cinema is an accessible and exciting new contribution to film-philosophy, that shows why to take film seriously is also to engage with the fundamental questions of philosophy. Nathan Andersen brings Stanley Kubrick’s film A Clockwork Orange into philosophical conversation with Plato’s Republic, comparing their contributions to themes such as the nature of experience and meaning, the character of justice, the contrast between appearance and reality, the importance of art, and the impact of images. At the heart of the book is a novel account of the analogy between Plato's allegory of the cave and cinema, developed in conjunction with a provocative interpretation of the most powerful image from A Clockwork Orange, in which the lead character is strapped to a chair and forced to watch violent films.
Whereas Plato compares the whole range of ordinary experience to shadows on the wall of a darkened cave, the author suggests that, in relation to cinema, audiences have the advantage that they know these shadows are not real. The result is that cinema more easily provokes the kinds of philosophical concerns it takes a special discipline to consider in relation to everyday life. This account of Plato’s cave contrasts with the more usual reading according to which images and art, and by implication cinema, only serve to bind their spectators more deeply to the shadows. Films like A Clockwork Orange demonstrate that while images can have a powerful impact on the attitudes of audiences, they also have the power to provoke them to critically examine their most basic assumptions.
Key features of the book include:
- A bibliography of suggested readings on Plato, on film, on philosophy, and on the philosophy of film, aimed at readers who wish to pursue these themes further;
- A list of suggested films that can be profitably explored following the approach in this book, containing brief descriptions of the film, and suggestions toward a philosophical reading of the film in question;
- A glossary defining key terms from both philosophy and film studies that are mentioned or employed within the text;
- A summary of Plato’s Republic, book by book, that highlights both dramatic context and subject matter, and that functions as a supplement to the book for readers who have not read this classical philosophical text in its entirety or who need a reminder of its scope.
Offering a close reading of the controversial classic film A Clockwork Orange, and an introductory account of the central themes of the philosophical classic The Republic, this book will be of interest to both scholars and students of philosophy and film, as well as to readers of Plato and fans of Stanley Kubrick.