Cinema and the artificial passions : a conversation with the Abbé Du Bos

Abstract

In the following fictional interview, the Abbé Jean-Baptiste Du Bos’ ideas about the representational arts are applied to relevant aspects of the cinema. Du Bos argues that normally works of cinematic fiction are designed to give rise to ‘artificial passions’ that have the function of providing relief from boredom without the negative consequences that many alternative pursuits would have. Du Bos’ solution to the paradox of negative affect and his position on Aristotle’s doctrine of catharsis are also set forth in the interview. The question of whether films have philosophical significance is also taken up. The upshot is a somewhat unfamiliar early 18th-century perspective on some contemporary issues.

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Paisley Livingston
Lingnan University

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