Philosophy of Film (Fall 2008) - Final Exam

Rather than writing a 10 page (3,000 word) term paper, you have the option to write a small (5 page, 1,500 word) paper AND answer 4 final exam questions.

Please include both the paper and the question in a single file. Answer the questions first and start a new page at the beginning of the paper. (Don't skip a page, just make sure the paper starts on a new page. Insert a page break after the last question.) Submit your document via Turn It In.

Part I. Questions

Please answer 4 of the questions below. You have 1,500 words.

1. Explain Carroll's solution to the paradox of fiction.

2. Evaluate Carroll's solution to the paradox of horror.

3. Explain Hume's solution to the paradox of tragedy.

4. Explain Carroll's argument for moderate moralism

5. Evaluate Carroll's, Smuts', or Yanal's solution to the paradox of suspense.

6. Is "Psycho" a problem for Carroll's definition of horror?

7. Explain the five features of Hume's ideal judges.

8. Explain the "pluralistic category approach" to film evaluation.

Part II. Paper

Write a paper on one of the topics below. You have 1,500 words.

1. Painful Art

Defend a solution to the paradox of painful art. You might want to pick a putatively painful artwork and explain its appeal. You don't have to provide an answer applicable for all works in every genre. You can choose to focus on a single genre. You should discuss why some other plausible solutions are inferior to your explanation.

2. Categories and Criticism

Does correct categorization solve many critical disputes. Consider a controversial evaluation, perhaps from a movie review or one that you've defended against the protests of friends. Try to think of an example that does not involve a categorization error. For instance, find a comedy where everyone agreed that it was a particular type of comedy, but disagreed about whether it was funny. What problems might this pose for Carroll's theory of criticism and Kaufman's defense of the objectivity of critical judgments?

3. Film as Philosophy

Is any version of the super-bold thesis plausible? Are there any philosophical contributions that can only be made via film? If so, or if not, are there any philosophical contributions that can be made more effectively in film? In other words, is film sometimes a better vehicle for philosophy than the written word? If so, you need to explain when and how. In what way is it better? When it is better? What's a "philosophical contribution"?

4. Film, Photography, and Authenticity

Should we believe Bazin (in "The Ontology of the Moving Image") that due to it's photographic nature, film has an "irrational power . . to bear away our faith"? Why or why not? If not all films, are some films more powerful because of the putative credibility of photography? You might want to consider Bazin's discussion of "Kon Tiki" in comparison to much of "The Blair Witch Project", the first alien sighting in "Signs", and the dream sequence in "Prince of Darkness." Are these scenes effective because of the nature or photography? Can you think of a more plausible, alternative explanation for the effectiveness of these scenes?