Stanley Cavell’s The World Viewed is for many a founding text in film-philosophy. Despite initially receiving a hostile reception within both film studies (where it was thought obscure and impressionistic) and philosophy (where it was thought vulgar and impressionistic), despite it being, as Cavell’s own friends judged, ‘a difficult book, sometimes incomprehensible book’, it has nonetheless attained a retrospective value as a truly pioneering work.2 Its attempt to provide a foundation for the study of film by means of an ontology of the medium, though neither unprecedented nor untroubled, has generated an approach to film matched only by Deleuze in its philosophical breadth and specificity. Compared to Deleuze, Cavell’s methodology is Heideggerian, Wittgensteinian and Freudian. Yet, regardless of their theoretical differences, both purport to show how important film is for philosophy, and, given that Cavell made his overtures more than a decade earlier than Deleuze, he could be said to have paved the way for every ‘philosophical’ approach (all the time remembering, however, than film studies itself had been mining philosophical ideas for decades beforehand).
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