Has any film director had a greater impact on popular culture than Steven Spielberg? Whether filming Holocaust heroes and villains, soldiers, dinosaurs, extraterrestrials, or explorers in search of the Holy Grail, Spielberg has given filmgoers some of the most memorable characters and wrenching moments in the history of cinema. Whatever his subject -- war, cloning, slavery, terrorism, or adventure -- all of Spielberg's films have one aspect in common: a unique view of the moral fabric of humanity. Dean A. Kowalski's Steven Spielberg and Philosophy is like a remarkable conversation after a night at the movie theater, offering new insights and unexpected observations about the director's most admired films. Some of the nation's most respected philosophers investigate Spielberg's art, asking fundamental questions about the nature of humanity, cinema, and Spielberg's expression of his chosen themes. Applying various philosophical principles to the movies, the book explores such topics as the moral demands of parenthood in War of the Worlds; the ultimate unknowability of the "other" in Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Schindler's List; the relationship between nature and morality in Jurassic Park; the notion of consciousness in A.I.: Artificial Intelligence; issues of war theory and ethics in Munich; and the foundation of human rights in Amistad. Impressive in scope, this volume illustrates the philosophical tenets of a wide variety of thinkers from Plato to Aquinas, Locke, and Levinas. Contributors introduce readers to philosophy while simultaneously providing deeper insight into Spielberg's approach to filmmaking. The essays consider Spielberg's movies using key philosophical cornerstones: metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, axiology, aesthetics, and political philosophy, among others. At the same time, Steven Spielberg and Philosophy is accessible to those new to philosophy, using the philosophical platform to ponder larger issues embedded in film and asking fundamental questions about the nature of cinema and how meanings are negotiated. The authors contend that movies do not present philosophy -- rather philosophy is something viewers do while watching and thinking about films. Using Spielberg's films as a platform for discussing these concepts, the authors contemplate questions that genuinely surprise the reader, offering penetrating insights that will be welcomed by film critics, philosophers, and fans alike.
""In a sure sign that Steven Spielberg has finally been accepted into the academic canon after many years of being unfairly disparaged as a superficial entertainer, his films have now become the subject of passionate philosophical inquiry and debate. This lively collection of essays on the ideas underpinning his films enriches and enlarges our understanding of Spielberg's complex body of work."--Joseph McBride, author of Steven Spielberg: A Biography" --
""Steven Spielberg and Philosophy provides an engrossing and insightful examination of the cultural and intellectual breadth of Spielberg's films. It is an indispensable collection for anyone seriously interested in the director." --Charles L.P. Silet, editor of The Films of Steven Spielberg: Critical Essays" --
""This book explores perennial issues such as love and friendship, faith and reason, democracy and citizenship, virtue and evil, existentialism and authenticity, and feminism and pragmatism." --news.uky.edu, University of Kentucky News" --
""With the exception of Martin Scorsese, perhaps no other contemporary filmmaker garners more academic attention than Spielberg, proving -- as this book so aptly demonstrates -- that his films serve as more than vehicles of entertainment." --Choice" --
""Kowalski provides film scholars with a new means of analyzing Spielberg's canon while introducing the novice student of philosophy to the basic tenets of philosophical thought through the use of popular culture." --Choice" --
""A fresh, entertaining way to learn about philosophy through the ever-popular world of film." -- Choice" --
""At its heart, Steven Spielberg and Philosophy is a work that questions how the reader views Spielberg as a director, his various films, and even life itself. For these reasons alone, it is deserving of a spot on your bookshelf." --Ryan McKnight, Film Matters" --