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Abstract

Stanley Cavell taught us that films give us a view of a world that differs from the world in which we view films only by not being that world. Films, that is, screen a world for us and screen us from a world that is not our own. Cavell’s view is based on a photographic conception of film images. A film is composed of photographic images collected on reels and put in motion at twenty-four frames per second. In “More of the World Viewed,” Cavell dares us to come up with a theory of perception that challenges the assumption that the camera sees the world the way the eye sees it. Alva Noë has come up with just such a theory. In this essay, we challenge the photographic view of perception and the photographic basis of film to argue for an enactive conception of film viewing. On this conception, worlds in films are not viewed but achieved by affordances picked up and skills refined in the course of an embodied encounter with a world that includes films. Additionally, in this skilled achievement of the worlds in films, we also achieve something of ourselves. Ultimately, this view preserves and enhances many of Cavell’s key insights in the context of a new philosophy of mind.

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