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Film and Theories of Interpersonal Understanding (2017-2018 )

Field of study: Philosophy

The paper discusses the issue of interpersonal understanding by comparing ordinary and cinematographic experience. Recent theories of interpersonal understanding turn out to be either inconclusive or insufficient to account for the heterogeneous ways in which we get mental and emotional states of other persons. The paper advances a view of the film medium by drawing on Stanley Cavell, which is reinforced by Wittgenstein’s and Merleau-Ponty’s convergent accounts of cinematographic perception. Against this background, interpersonal understanding turns out to be permeated by the expressivity of human appearance – something easily overlooked by the mentioned theories, which is yet brought forward most perspicuously by cinema.

Keywords: interpersonal understanding, human appearance, expressivity, cinematographic experience, Cavell, Wittgenstein, Merleau-Ponty

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