In “Let’s Make More Movies,” the epistemological anarchist Paul Feyerabend wrote this:
The separation of subjects that is such a pronounced characteristic of modern philosophy is … not altogether undesirable. It is a step on the way to a more satisfactory type of myth. What is needed to proceed further is not the return to harmony and stability as too many critics of the status quo, Marxists included, seem to think, but a form of life in which the constituents of older myths —theories, books, images, emotions, sounds, institutions — enter as interacting but antagonistic elements. Brecht’s theatre was an attempt to create such a form of life. He did not entirely succeed. I suggest we try movies instead. (P. Feyerabend, “Let’s Make more Movies,” in The Owl of Minerva: Philosophers on Philosophy, Ch. J. Bontempo and S. J. Odell (eds), McGraw-Hill: New York 1975, pp. 201-210.)
At the end of the 19th century and crossing over into the early 20th century, when professional academic philosophy and empirical psychology had their parting-of-the-ways in the major flap about Psychologism, one of the important sub-flaps was a controversy within empirical psychology itself, about “imageless thought.”
Briefly put, Introspectionist psychologists in the phenomenological tradition of Franz Brentano were deeply split as to whether human thinking DID or DIDN’T require associated mental imagery.
Some experimental Introspectionists said YES!, with first-person empirical evidence to prove it, and some other experimental introspectionists said HELL NO!, with first-person empirical evidence to prove it.
The result was a general skepticism about first-person evidence and phenomenology more generally in empirical psychology, and ultimately an even deeper skepticism about the very existence of human consciousness, over and above brain processes and human behavior.
Enter Behaviorism and hard-core “scientific psychology,” followed eventually by a Cognitivist reaction, then Cognitive Neuroscience.
And “the rest is silence”–cognitive neurosilence, that is.
Although it is obviously closely related, my specific topic in this philosoflick is not imageless thought, yes or no?, but instead its flip-side, thoughtless images, by which I mean:
pure images that are immediately identified under some label or name, dissociated from any further discursive (i.e., conceptual, propositional, or logical) thinking.
So, e.g., you’re watching TV or a movie and someone comes onto the screen, front and center, 3/4 profile, like most such shots, or face-on, and boom!, you see a palm tree, the iconic LA city hall, him and his uniform, hat, badge, and big ugly gun in one perceptual take, and label him “LA cop!” That’s a thoughtless image.
More precisely, however, I’m interested in–
(i) the cognitive powers and effects of labeled pure images, dissociated from further discursive thinking,
(ii) the ideological manipulation of cognition by means of labeled pure images, for capitalist economic and/or contemporary political purposes, and also, sharply on the contrary,
(iii) the anti-manipulative and subversive powers and effects of labeled pure images, in service of intellectual and practical liberation.
I call this philosoflick “Thoughtless Images, aka Guns R Us.”
The American War of Independence
Revolutionary War Pistols
Revolutionary War Rifles
Quick Draw McGraw
American Civil War Machine Gun
Johnny Got His Gun, by Dalton Trumbo
An American Civil War Soldier Got His Gun
The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, 1929
Scarface, Starring Paul Muni
Machine Gun Kelly
Johnny Dillinger Got His Gun
Gun Crazy, Starring Peggy Cummins and John Dall
Annie Get Your Gun, Starring Betty Hutton
Lee Harvey Oswald Got His Gun
John F. Kennedy Assassination
Lee Harvey Oswald Assassination
Bobby Kennedy Assassination
Martin Luther King Assassination
Mark David Chapman Got His Gun
John Lennon Assassination in Art
John Lennon Assassination in Reality
Dirty Harry, Starring Clint Eastwood
Smith & Wesson, Springfield MA U.S.A.
Lots of Guns
Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold Got Their Guns
School Shooting Victims
Warning This Property Protected by Smith & Wesson
Tupac Shakur Got His Gun
The Notorious B.I.G. Got His Gun
Die Hard Trilogy, Starring Bruce Willis
Off the Chart
Help NRA Protect Your Gun Rights for the Next 200 Years!