Courses / Undergraduate

Spring 2022

  • The Craft of Writing – Film Focus – For a Philosophy of Evidence

    R1B 005 | CCN: 29099

    Jonathan Daniel Mackris

    Location: Dwinelle 134

    Date and Time: TU, TH 3:30pm - 4:59pm

    4 Units

    Whether in our academic or personal lives, we all rely on evidence. Papers will often use quotations or examples to illustrate their ideas. Studies in the social sciences provide tables, data, and graphs to present their research. Newspapers and journalists support their findings with photographs. Court cases require testimonies, and detectives clues at the crime scene. And yet, despite its familiarity, the problem of evidence is by no means self-evident, and has remained a constant question in the history of philosophy. This course will reflect on the problem of evidence and the issues related to it, be they questions of narration, memory, experience, and aesthetics. In doing so, we will consider some of the following questions: what are the strengths and weaknesses of various kinds of evidence? How do quotations function in a text or work? What kind of existence does a number present? How do different kinds of evidence introduce different limits to what can be argued, or create new opportunities for argument? Most practical of all: what kind of evidence would be most appropriate to convince another of the point I am trying to make? To answer these questions, we put these questions to a number of different objects, from philosophical work to news reports and mathematical treatises. Special attention will be paid as well to the status of the still and moving image as a form of credible evidence. Through all of these, we will consider the history of how certain forms of presentation came to be considered valid as evidence. If, as the German critic Walter Benjamin once claimed, “the communicability of experience is decreasing,” this course seeks to consider the ways in which modern life attempts to make itself understood.