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Philosophy’s Artful Conversation

Philosophy’s Artful Conversation

D. N. Rodowick

ISBN 9780674416673

Publication date: 01/05/2015

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Theory has been an embattled discourse in the academy for decades. But now it faces a serious challenge from those who want to model the analytical methods of all scholarly disciplines on the natural sciences. What is urgently needed, says D. N. Rodowick, is a revitalized concept of theory that can assess the limits of scientific explanation and defend the unique character of humanistic understanding.

Philosophy’s Artful Conversation is a timely and searching examination of theory’s role in the arts and humanities today. Expanding the insights of his earlier book, Elegy for Theory, and drawing on the diverse thought of Ludwig Wittgenstein, G. H. von Wright, P. M. S. Hacker, Richard Rorty, and Charles Taylor, Rodowick provides a blueprint of what he calls a “philosophy of the humanities.” In a surprising and illuminating turn, he views the historical emergence of theory through the lens of film theory, arguing that aesthetics, literary studies, and cinema studies cannot be separated where questions of theory are concerned. These discourses comprise a conceptual whole, providing an overarching model of critique that resembles, in embryonic form, what a new philosophy of the humanities might look like.

Rodowick offers original readings of Gilles Deleuze and Stanley Cavell, bringing forward unexamined points of contact between two thinkers who associate philosophical expression with film and the arts. A major contribution to cross-disciplinary intellectual history, Philosophy’s Artful Conversation reveals the many threads connecting the arts and humanities with the history of philosophy.


  • In this beautiful meditation on film and philosophy, D. N. Rodowick guides us through original combinations of thinkers, artworks, and ideas to argue for new ethical possibilities for the humanities. His studies transcend disciplinary boundaries in style and approach such that new ways of reflecting on deep social and existential problems come to the fore, carried by exceptional learning and feel. His surprising alliance of Cavell and Deleuze allows for the most moving and wise appreciation of film as ethical domain available today.

    —James Williams, University of Dundee


  • D. N. Rodowick is Glen A. Lloyd Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago.

Book Details

  • 336 pages
  • 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press

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