New Documentary Chronicles Philosophy in Motion

Astra Taylor, the documentary filmmaker whose 2005 film “Zizek!” accompanied the Slovene philosopher Slavoj Zizek on a lecture tour is now debuting her second film, “Examined Life."

According to the New York Times, the film "recruits a wide array of thinkers and theorists to muse out loud about the role of philosophy in our lives, playing off the Socratic observation that 'the unexamined life is not worth living.'”


The central conceit of the film by the 29 year-old Taylor is that philosophy must be taken out of the ivory tower and affirmed "in the flux of everyday life." To accomplish this, she recreates the idea of "the peripatetic philosopher, from Aristotle (who paced the Lyceum while teaching) to Kierkegaard (a proponent of thinking while walking, which he frequently did in the Copenhagen streets) to Walter Benjamin (the embodiment of the Paris flâneur)," acccording to the Times.

Except that Taylor puts Cornel West in the back of a New York City cab, she films deconstructionist critic Avital Ronell strolling through Tompkins Square Park in the East Village, and features Michael Hardt, the co-author (with Antonio Negri) of the new-world-order treatise “Empire,” rowing a boat in Central Park "while wondering what a present-day revolution might look like."

According to the Times, Taylor "realized that putting her subjects in motion would elicit a different kind of interview than if they were seated behind their desks in offices."

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