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Examined Life2008

  • 3.9
Filmmaker Astra Taylor accompanies some of today's most influential thinkers on a series of unique excursions through places and spaces that hold particular resonance for them and their ideas. Peter Singer's thoughts on the ethics of consumption are amplified against the backdrop of Fifth Avenue's posh boutiques. Slavoj Zizek questions current beliefs about the environment while sifting through a garbage dump. Michael Hardt ponders the nature of revolution while surrounded by symbols of wealth and leisure. Judith Butler and a friend stroll through San Francisco's Mission District questioning our culture's fixation on individualism. And while driving through Manhattan, Cornel West (perhaps America's best-known public intellectual) compares philosophy to jazz and blues, reminding us how intense and invigorating a life of the mind can be. Offering privileged moments with great thinkers from fields ranging from moral philosophy to cultural theory, EXAMINED LIFE reveals philosophy's power to transform the way we see the world around us and imagine our place in it. Featuring Cornel West, Avital Ronell, Peter Singer, Kwame Anthony Appiah, Martha Nussbaum, Michael Hardt, Slavoj Zizek, Judith Butler and Sunaura Taylor.

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Member Reviews (3)

top reviewer

At the beginning of the film a voice over commentates on the difficulty of prying philosophy out of its textbooks and into film-format. It is all the more disappointing that even with the recognition of this hazard, the format of ten minute conversations with "popular" philosophers is neither exciting to view nor hear. The film The Polymath about Samuel Delaney shows a filmic solution to the issue by decontextualizing the recordings and collaging them with a wider range of atmospheric shots and abstracts. While the philosophers in this film are real and their discussions are philosophical they converse at the surface of science, asking 'what if's intended to ooo and awe the gentle minds of the audience. One of the philosophers discusses how him not wanting to eat another living being made him a vegetarian. But that's about it: a literal parade of unexamined statements are heaped high, full of relativisms, as more of a circus than an analysis.

Is this a documentary? Is it a failed experiment in cinema? Could this have just been a podcast?

This was interesting but I would have appreciated more depth. It bears a couple of viewings though so it does cram a bit into a little space.

Quite possibly the best introduction to philosophy yet created, Astra Taylor has created a documentary as important as it is enjoyable. I put this film in my top 25 list without question.