October 24, 2010
RED RIVER, THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE, and THE SEARCHERS as POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY
Pippin, Robert B., Hollywood Westerns and American Myth: The Importance of Howard Hawks and John Ford for Political Philosophy (The Castle Lectures in Ethics, Politics, and Economics) (New Haven & London: Yale U. Press, 2010) ("[L]et me just state the five main points that I would like to defend in this book. (i) Political psychology is essential to any worthwhile political philosophy. (ii) The sort of political psychology necessary cannot be properly understood as an empirical social science. (iii) It must reflect an understanding of the experiential or first-personal dimension of political experience, and that means it must involve a complex, historically inflected interpretive task. We need to know what matters to people at a place and time, why it matters, what matters more than other things (more than anything in some contexts), what they are willing to sacrifice for, what provokes intense anger, and so forth. And we will not learn this by relying in what as a matter of historical fact they say or said , not by arbitrarily imputing to them one supreme motivation--the rational satisfaction of their preferences. (iv) Novels and films and other artworks are essential, not incidental or merely illustrative, elements of such a tack. (v) Most controversial of all such interpretative work, in raising the question f the political actually within political philosophy would have a point, is itself philosophical work, not illustrative or merely preliminary. . . . " Id. at 15-16. A great read, reminding one of the value and joy of a liberal arts education.).