Monday, March 21, 2011

American Philosophy and/or Philosophy in America

Several years ago, when I was still at Penn State, I learned of Phillip McReynolds' film project on American Philosopher (or philosophers in America) through my dissertation advisor (and McReynolds' wife), Shannon Sullivan. Since then, I've seen a few segments of it appear here and there on the internet, but I had yet to see the entire finished version, so I'm extremely happy to be able to share the full version below. Some of this country's most prominent philosophers are interviewed in the film and McReynolds' does a fine job of soliciting from them the right kinds of reflections on this bizarre, complicated and somewhat makeshift thing we call "philosophy" in America. McReynolds' interviewees are often quite candid about the subjects under discussion, which range from the sophisticated (what is the difference between Analytic, Continental and American philosophy?) and the mundane (what is it like to be a part of a profession that forces you to move so often over the course of your career?).

As the title "American Philosopher" suggests, the film chiefly focuses on deciphering what is meant by the association of the two constituent terms "philosophy" and "American." In this country, professional philosophy is divided between three (more or less) distinct categories-- Analytic, Continental, and American-- and McReynolds's films features representatives of all three. If the "American" in "American Philosophy" is just a geographical adjective, all of McReynolds' subjects are "American Philosophers," technically speaking. So it's interesting to see the manner in which some of them take up that designation more or less comfortably than others.

Here is the film in its entirety, which runs a little over an hour long. You can watch it in short "parts" here, but I highly recommend seeing the whole thing.

American Philosopher The Film from Phillip McReynolds on Vimeo.


Phillip said...

Hey, thanks for the link (and the thoughtful and positive commentary!) Not that this matters much, but the link to me in the body is more or less defunct in part because I haven't taught for STS in ages and, more particularly, the program itself is about to be defunct. It's great to see this blog. Thanks!

DOCTOR J said...

Hi Phillip. Thanks for stopping by and congratulations on your film! Is there another link you recommend I use?

Phillip said... works and I'm in the process of getting up and running. The sad news about STS is that the core council decided to shut it down last month, moving all tenured faculty to other departments and terminating untenured and fixed term faculty.