quote for today

this is part of a much longer post on the similarities between cinema and church. see the rest of it here: http://www.damaris.org/navigation/?url=/ exerpt of: Philosophical Investigation and Spiritual Reflection in Contemporary Popular Culture by Nick Pollard "Traditionally, most philosophical investigation took place in universities, and most spiritual reflection took place in churches. However, in recent years that seems to have changed. Now, arguably, most philosophical investigation and spiritual reflection takes place in the cinema. In fact, there are many similarities between cinema and church. When someone goes to the cinema they join with many others, who sit together in rows and share a common experience. They laugh together, they cry together. They engage with a story that is told from the front - a story that carries with it an underlying message, a worldview. This has an effect upon their beliefs and values. So when they leave they are a different in some way. Some films (and some church services) have only a very small effect upon people, whilst others can have a major impact. But all of the effects, large or small, build together to shape the person philosophically and spiritually, as they return week after week. This can take place at quite a deep level since, increasingly, contemporary films are exploring some very profound and complex philosophical and spiritual questions. Steven Spielberg's film "Minority Report" illustrates this. The year is 2054; the place is the Department of Pre-crime in Washington. Here live three eerie people, floating in a water-tank with their brains wired to a computer. They are 'pre-cogs' - people with powers to see future events - particularly traumatic ones such as murder. In one scene in the film, pre-cogs visualise scenes from a murder that will happen very soon, somewhere in Washington. These scenes are displayed on a large computer screen so that a detective (played by Tom Cruise) can identify the location and send the police to arrest the murderer before he actually commits the crime. When the would-be murderer is arrested, he pleads, 'But I haven't done anything!' And he hasn't. Nor has Tom Cruise's character who turns out to be the next person to be identified by the pre-cogs as a future murderer. He cannot believe that he is going to kill someone and so he runs away. Thus begins some very gripping chase sequences - but that is only the gloss, the surface. The real heart of the film is the exploration of the philosophical and spiritual questions about freedom and identity. Are we able to choose our future, and thus be morally accountable for it? Or are our actions in some way determined for us? Determinism is usually defined as 'the philosophical doctrine that every state of affairs, including every human event, act, and decision is the inevitable consequence of antecedent states of affairs.' Various different forms of determinism have been proposed over the centuries and we will see how they have all been explored in contemporary popular films. The type of determinism which was explored in "Minority Report" is usually referred to as 'logical determinism'. This was considered by Aristotle in the ninth chapter of De Interpretatione. Here he responds to the 'Master Argument' which is usually attributed to Diodorus Cronus. This argument said that, because something has happened it always was going to happen, and there was, therefore, no freedom for it not to happen. Diodorus Cronus expressed the argument in terms of a sea battle. Suppose there was a sea battle yesterday. So, today, I say, 'There was a sea battle on 1 September 2003.' Then my assertion is not only true, it is necessarily true in the sense that it cannot possibly be false. If it is necessarily true, according to the Master Argument, then it has always been true. This means that it is not only true to say it today, but it would have been true to say it yesterday, or four days ago, or four years ago, or ten thousand years ago. But if it was true to say it ten thousand years ago, then the sea battle was a fixed part of the future for that distant time, and no-one could have had any freedom to change it.[1]"


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