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March 23, 2009
By Guia Del Prado
A film about philosophy and life called “Examined Life: Philosophy is in the Streets” will premiere in Nevada on Tuesday, March 24 in the Joe Crowley Student Union Theater with two showings at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. The film screening, hosted by the philosophy department in conjunction with the Associated Students of the University of Nevada and the Leonard Endowment, will be available with free admission to University of Nevada, Reno students, faculty, staff and to members of the larger community.
“Examined Life,” by filmmaker Astra Taylor and released by Zeitgeist Films in 2008, poses philosophical questions about how people think and act within the current condition of the world, and how they think of themselves as well as others.
The film also presents philosophy as more than just an academic pursuit. It presents philosophy as part of managing everyday life, as some of the notable thinkers included in the 88-minute film are shown walking city streets. The film deals with such topics as the idea of responsibility and consumption in a globalized world, disability and limitations within different societies, and human vulnerability and need in the current times.
“I think the film is saying that is not simply academic, but is about life,” said Deborah Achtenberg, associate professor and department chairperson in philosophy. “It deals with questions about how to live, how to face death and weakness, and what our responsibility is to others. The film contains discussions about arguments that really matter.”
The film includes recent distinguished philosophers as Slavoj Zizek, world-renown Slovenian philosopher and star of Taylor’s film “Zizek!”; Judith Butler, queer theory philosopher; and Cornel West, dubbed “America’s best-known public intellectual” according to Zeitgeist Film’s website. The film also features Kwame Anthony Appia, philosopher of cosmopolitanism, Martha Nussbaum, Avital Ronell, Michael Hardt, and Sunaura Taylor. Still, the film is targeted to all audiences, not just philosophers by occupation or philosophy majors.
“It’s a very accessible film,” Achtenberg said. “It’s lively and interesting, with the philosophers out on the street. It’s directed to anyone who’s a thinking person.
Achtenberg said “Examined Life” has received positive reviews. She and other philosophy department members wanted to screen the film in Nevada to expose both University students and the community to philosophy as a guide to introspection and life.
“From the standpoint of the philosophy department, we wanted to show the film because it’s an accurate, compelling and moving portrait of what philosophy is like today,” Achtenberg said.