Philosophical Films: Study Questions: Texts

The Cave and the Philosopher Kings ("Network")

1. During which war did Plato grow up?
2. What were the two major issues over which the war was fought?
3. What are the three parts of the soul that Plato discusses?
4. What are the three social classes that Plato envisages in the Republic?
5. List, in Plato's ranking, the five forms of government discussed in the Republic!
6. How is Plato's ship analogy an argument against Democracy?
7. What does kybernetes mean?
8. How has Plato's argument against democracy been criticized?
9. What is a "form" (eidos) in Plato's theory?
10. What does being confined to the cave mean in Plato's "Allegory of the Cave"?
11. How can Plato's Allegory be applied to the modern media situation?
12. What is common to a Leninist "vangard" party and Plato's philosopher-kings?
13. What is the major difference between them?

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Modernity and the Solitary Individual ("Last Year at Marienbad")

1. When did Descartes live?
2. Name four major developments or events that mark the transition from the Middle Ages to Modernity!
3. What was Descartes's most urgent task as a philosopher?
4. What is the main purpose of Descartes's famous "Dreamargument"?
5. How is it impossible to doubt that one thinks (when one is thinking)?
6. What is the true self, according to Descartes?
7. What is "Cartesian Dualism"?
8. How do 17th century architecture and horticulture express Cartesian Dualism?
9. In which way is Solipsism present in Descartes's thinking?

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Self-Determination in the Age of Reason ("She's Got to Have It")

1. Which century was the "Age of Enlightenment"?
2. What was the over-all goal of the Enlightenment?
3. What was the highest moral and political ideal of the Enlightenment?
4. What does the myth of Prometheus represent?
5. What is Kant's famous definition of "Enlightenment"?
6. What is the difference between an Idealist and a Materialist theory of knowledge?
7. Which two major political events gave expression to the ideals of the Enlightenment?
8. What were some of the hypocrisies of the Enlightenment as a movement?
9. What is the true self according to Mary Wollstonecraft?
10. What are some of the "feminine virtues" that Wollstonecraft pillories?
11. Why is Wollstonecraft opposed to these "virtues"?
12. What is "the philosophical method of the Americans," according to de Tocqeville?
13. How is this method related to the Reformation and to Descartes?

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Capitalism and Alienation ("Modern Times")

1. What was Marx's main work, and when was its first volume published?
2. Name three major themes of Fichte's philosophy which also appear in Marx's work!
3. In which way is Marx's thinking an expression of the political ideals of the Enlightenment? (What is Marx's highest value?)
4. What are the four major aspects of Marx's Theory of Alienation?
5. Why is Capitalism something necessary and positive in human history, according to Marx?
6. In which sense are a Free Market and Democracy incompatible with each other?
7. Name at least four problematic consequences of the high productivity of Capitalism!
8. How does Marx define the main two social classes of a Capitalist society?
9. What, according to Marx, will lead to the eventual self-destruction of Capitalism?

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Culture and the Satisfied Pig ("Educating Rita")

1. What is the highest value in Utilitarian ethics?
2. Which Greek thinker established the first hedonistic philosophy?
3. What, according to Mill, is the main difference between "higher" and "lower" pleasures?
4. Who, according to Mill, is competent enough to decide which pleasures are most valuable?
5. What are three major aspects of Higher (Liberal) Education?

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Zen and the Art of Living in the Present ("Play It Again, Sam")

1. When and where did Emerson live?
2. What is the basic conviction of the New England Transcendentalists? (What makes them Transcendentalists?)
3. What is the difference between Kant's and Emerson's conception of the true self?
4. In which way is Emerson's individualism connected with the most basic contention of Protestantism?
5. To which Greek philosopher is Emerson's idea of Living in the Present related?

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Nietzsche and the Heart of Darkness ("Apocalypse Now")

1. When did Nietzsche live, and when did he become insane?
2. What is the main point of his theory of Art, as expressed in The Birth of Tragedy?
3. What does the Dionysian and the Apollinian stand for?
4. Why did Nietzsche not become famous until the 20th century?

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