Text topic: Film and Philosophy
Text author: Дамир Смиљанић
In this article the role of thought experiments in philosophy will be considered as well as the possibility to show these experiments on movie screens. Thought experiments as mental models can create a fertile connection between philosophy and film, mind and sight, concept and image. First, a short typology of thought experiments which are suitable for filmic interpretation will be given, especially those experiments which are dealing with the problems of annulling the difference between reality and fiction, problems of personal identity and ethical paradoxes. Some of these thought experiments will be illustrated on the example of three movies (Vertigo, The Matrix, and No Country for Old Men). Hitchcock’s Vertigo shows how one person who plays the role of another person can gradually lose sight of the difference between him/her and the taken personality – this identification has tragic consequences for the main characters in the movie. In their science-fiction trilogy, The Matrix, the Wachowski Brothers explore the possibility that human consciousness is manipulated by some intelligent machines and make implicit use of a philosophical thought experiment as presented in Hilary Putnam’s work Reason, Truth and History (the case of “brains in a vat”). The Coen Brothers are thematizing an ethical paradox in No Country for Old Men: Is it possible for a killer to act in accordance with categorical principles? If this is true, should we endorse such behavior? The end of the article briefly discusses a potential heuristic and didactic relevance of the filmic interpretation of thought experiments for philosophy.