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What Philosophy Wants from Images$
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D. N. Rodowick

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780226513058

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226513225.001.0001

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The Queer Attractions of Perceptual Belief

The Queer Attractions of Perceptual Belief

(p.24) 2 The Queer Attractions of Perceptual Belief
What Philosophy Wants from Images

D. N. Rodowick

University of Chicago Press

This chapter examines questions of photography and belief in the contrasting yet related arguments of Christian Metz and Stanley Cavell. The chapter begins by referring to Ludwig Wittgenstein’s “Lecture on Ethics” and his strategy of examining intermediate cases for analyzing unexamined convictions in judgments of ethics, aesthetics, and belief. The chapter then compares Christian Metz and Stanley Cavell through their common interest in investigating the relation between ontology and belief, and especially the perceptual character of expressions of ontology and belief. The rotation of belief around assertions of knowledge and denial, reality and fantasy, is a common thread running through Metz and Cavell’s writings on photography and film. In his late essay, “Photography and Fetishism,” Metz draws complex analogies between Freud’s concept of fetishism and contradictory structures of fantasy and belief in still and moving images. Cavell targets a similar condition and experience of perceptual belief in his ontological and ethical investigations of the logic of skepticism as expressed in the phenomenology of photography and cinema. The chapter concludes by contrasting Metz and Cavell’s approaches to diagnosing paradoxical structures of perceptual belief in a distinction between theory and philosophy.

Keywords:   Ludwig Wittgenstein, Christian Metz, Stanley Cavell, photography, belief, automatism, indexicality, fetishism, imaginary signifier, skepticism

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