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Finding Ourselves at the Movies: Philosophy for a New Generation

Paul W. Kahn

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November, 2013
Cloth, 256 pages,
ISBN: 978-0-231-16438-2
$35.00 / £24.00

"A brilliant venture in the lost art of bringing theoretical insight to bear on popular culture. Finding Ourselves at the Movies defends another relationship between the thinker and the public, enacting what it theorizes in illuminating commentaries on films. Kahn makes us reconsider movies as reflections of our collective imagination and public commitments." — Samuel Moyn, Columbia University

"This is a terrific book, bursting with ideas, and seamlessly blending discussions of love, war, freedom, faith—in short, of the human condition—with talk about movies. Drawing on everything from war movies to romantic comedies, from horror films to family dramas, Kahn shows us how the movies mirror the ways we communally invest our lives and our world with meaning. His readings of popular films and the shared world these films reflect are at once astute and provocative." — Susan Wolf, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

"What an astonishing book, a marriage between film and philosophy written without pretension or technical language. Fifty years ago, Pauline Kael famously 'lost it at the movies’; now Paul Kahn has found it. Film, Kahn explains, is not just about losing your innocence, it is about finding your 'self'—and that is and always has been the project of philosophy. You may not agree with Kahn’s interpretation of particular films, but you will always be enlightened." — Alan A. Stone, Harvard University

"Writing with wisdom and philosophical insight, Kahn seeks to reclaim for philosophy the task of helping us discover who we are. Drawing on the narratives compellingly depicted in movies, he helps us reclaim our ability to act as intelligent agents. The humanity that pervades this book makes what Kahn has done significant for anyone who continues to hope that what we are and do matters." — Stanley Hauerwas, Duke Divinity School

"Informed, thought-provoking,, and insightful." — Midwest Book Review

"Crisply document[s] and provide[s] a provocative theoretical account of an important feature of America’s distinctiveness." — Mark S. Weiner, Telos

"[Finding Ourselves at the Movies] is rich, thought provoking, and will inspire much further discussion. [Kahn] has written a book that is both sophisticated in its philosophical argument and accessible to an intelligent, non-specialist readership." — Notre Dame Philosophical Review

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About the Author

Paul W. Kahn is Robert W. Winner Professor of Law and the Humanities and director of the Orville H. Schell Jr. Center for Human Rights at Yale Law School. He is the author of many books, including Sacred Violence: Torture, Terror, and Sovereignty and Political Theology: Four New Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty.

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