Eagle Eye and Philosophy

Tonight, a friend of mine and I went to see the movie Eagle Eye. I didn’t really know much about it except I was told that it was a government conspiracy movie. As entertainment, I enjoyed the movie, but as we left, I found myself speaking of it as anti-Bush propaganda. I’m a strong conservative and my friend was surprised when I described the movie that way and said “In what way?” (Note. Spoilers ahead if you plan to see it. You might want to wait.)

Let’s see. You have a start with an identification of a Muslim target that turns out to be incorrect later. Compare that to the Weapons of Mass Destruction. Meanwhile, you also have an attack on the Patriot Act as a threat to our civil liberties. Finally, since all of this has taken place, we need to have a regime change. 

Readers know my blog is not really about politics. I have said this is about philosophy. What does what I’ve said have to do with philosophy? Everything. My friend was completely unaware of all the connections, but as soon as I pointed them out he caught on and could not believe that he had not seen them before.

There are three levels of philosophy. The first is level one. Consider works like Plato and Aristotle. How many people have read Aquinas or Augustine? Can your average man on the street tell you anything about the ideas of Descartes and Spinoza? Is the average student in the high school classroom aware of the works of Hume and/or Kant?

Probably not.

This is part of the problem. Let’s suppose you think Spinoza was crazy in his philosophy, which I personally do. You at least need to know what he thought. Let’s suppose you think Kant opened up a can of worms. You need to know what he thought. Let’s suppose you’re a dyed-in-the-wool Aristotlean even. You need to know what Plato thought.

This is the first level and it’s the foundational level. It is where we get the philosophy from and where the arguments are argued at. If you want to have a real viewpoint on epistemology, you go here. If you want to discuss ethical theory, you go here. If you want to make a point about the body/soul problem, you go here.

Eagle Eye is level two. This is the level of media. This is the level of illustration and we will come back to it after talking about level three. (Trust me. I skip ahead for a reason.)

Level three is what happens around your dinner table. When you discuss how you function as a family, that is level three. When you are interacting with your fellow man, you are having level three. Now if you were discussing a philosophical issue, you’ve moved more into the area of level two, but the application of philosophy is at level three.

Today, level two is where the action usually is.

Like I said, most people will probably never pick up Plato and read him. Sad, but true. Today, we live in a society where most people get their worldview from the media. They go to a movie and get some belief about reality. They watch a TV show or hear a song or play a video game or read a fictional novel and get opinions from those also. 

To some extent, we all probably do this. However, if this is your only source, there is a serious problem. Please note that I am not against the use of the media to express philosophical ideas. I encourage it in fact. I have on my shelf some books like “Harry Potter and Philosophy”, “The Matrix and Philosophy”, and “Superheroes and Philosophy.” There is a whole line of books like that and I think they’re excellent as they use the issues of the media to discuss philosophical topics.

I am against though the story being used without any foundational idea to back it. Our Lord told parables, but he could also argue his point aside from a parable. He used his as illustrations, but when he wanted to express the values themselves, he spoke to us and told them what they were. The sermon on the mount is not a parable. It has parables in it, but these are illustrations of points that have been made prior.

In a postmodern world though, a story is used in the absence of an argument. People are moved through stories. There’s no doubt about that. That’s why it can be dangerous as ideas can be sneaked in on us without us realizing it. This is one reason I believe Plato was quite careful about the stories and music that would be allowed in his city. (That’s in the Republic, one of those foundational works.)

This is also why we need Christians in Hollywood. The anti-Christian worldviews of today are readily promoted. Imagine the impact if we could get Christians making movies that show a Christian worldview! Imagine if Christians had their own version of Oprah in the public eye recommending books that millions of people would turn into bestsellers!

The tragedy is we’re missing these wonderful tools of communication. If someone like Saint Paul were alive today and saw the means of communication we have, he’d be thrilled. (I believe this would also include internet blogs. I think all Christians should be blogging. I recommend getting a copy of Hugh Hewitt’s book “Blog” to show this.)

When you are receiving something from some output of media, also ask yourself about it. What worldview is being sent across? I think it’s fine to enjoy something even if the writer is non-Christian. It’s just important to be aware of what is going on. 

Philosophy is everywhere. You can’t avoid it. It is better to have a good one than a bad one and to know the foundations rather than just what you see at the movies.

Support Deeper Waters on Patreon!