Robert Pippin's Critical Reads

October 24th, 2017

Robert B. Pippin is the Evelyn Stefansson Nef Distinguished Service Professor in the John U. Nef Committee on Social Thought, the Department of Philosophy, and the College at the University of Chicago. He is the author or editor of many books. Spend Halloween with one of our most penetrating and creative philosophers on the "Master of Suspense," when Robert B. Pippin discusses The Philosophical Hitchcock: Vertigo and the Anxieties of Unknowingness with Dan Morgan; Tuesday 10/31, 6pm at the Co-op.


Film as Film, by V.S.Perkins - One of the very best introductions to how one might closely "read" a film.
 
Narration in Light, by George Wilson - And example of the philosophical issues that arise from attempting to understand film. Especially useful is his chapter on North by Northwest.
 
 
The World Viewed, by Stanley Cavell - A landmark book of philosophical reflection on film.
 
 
Hitchcock's Films Revisited, by Robin Wood - The finest single volume of intelligent criticism about Hitchcock's major films.
 
 
Hollywood Westerns and American Myth: The Importance of Howard Hawks and John Ford for Political Philosophy, by Robert Pippin - Another example of "film-philosophy"
 
Fatalism in American Film Noir: Some Cinematic Philosophy, by Robert Pippin
 
 
After the Beautiful: Hegel and the Philosophy of Pictorial Modernism, by Robert Pippin
 
 
Henry James and Modern Moral Life, by Robert Pippin
 
 

About The Philosophical Hitchcock: On the surface, The Philosophical Hitchcock: Vertigo and the Anxieties of Unknowingness, is a close reading of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1958 masterpiece Vertigo. This, however, is a book by Robert B. Pippin, one of our most penetrating and creative philosophers, and so it is also much more. Even as he provides detailed readings of each scene in the film, and its story of obsession and fantasy, Pippin reflects more broadly on the modern world depicted in Hitchcock’s films. Hitchcock’s characters, Pippin shows us, repeatedly face problems and dangers rooted in our general failure to understand others—or even ourselves—very well, or to make effective use of what little we do understand. Vertigo, with its impersonations, deceptions, and fantasies, embodies a general, common struggle for mutual understanding in the late modern social world of ever more complex dependencies. By treating this problem through a filmed fictional narrative, rather than discursively, Pippin argues, Hitchcock is able to help us see the systematic and deep mutual misunderstanding and self-deceit that we are subject to when we try to establish the knowledge necessary for love, trust, and commitment, and what it might be to live in such a state of unknowingness. A bold, brilliant exploration of one of the most admired works of cinema, The Philosophical Hitchcock will lead philosophers and cinephiles alike to a new appreciation of Vertigo and its meanings.