Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Philosophy and Dr. Strangelove

My presentation examines some of the philosophical elements Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove, a cold war satire/black comedy released in 1964.  The predominant military thinking at the time essentially boiled down to total annihilation of both the US and USSR if any side was to attack the other.  This strategy and its possible consequences were the intellectual stomping grounds of John von Neumann and Herman Kahn, among many others.  Kahn, author of the book On Thermonuclear War, was a particularly interesting philosopher due to his rather unsettling ability to casually imagine possible states of the world following a nuclear holocaust.  His work offered much of the source material for Kubrick’s doomsday scenario portrayed in this film.  More conventional film philosophy topics, such as approaching an ethical crisis, epistemology, and the pitfalls of technology will also be discussed.


[1].  Dr. Strangelove.  Dir. Stanley Kubrick.  Perf.  Peter Sellers, George C. Scott, and Sterling Hayden.  Columbia Pictures Corporation, 1964.
[2].  Baker, William (ed); Clark, William (ed). The Letters of Wilkie Collins: 1866-1889.  Palgrave Macmillan, 1999. p. 344. ISBN 978-0-312-22344-1.
[3].  Sagan, Scott Douglas. The Limits of Safety. Princeton University Press, 1995. pp. 187–188. ISBN 0-691-02101-5.
[4].  Kahn, Herman.  On Thermonuclear War. Princeton University Press, 1960. ISBN 0-313-20060-2
[5].  Albert Wohlstetter.  The Delicate Balance of Terror.  RAND corporation, 1958.                     http://www.rand.org/about/history/wohlstetter/P1472/P1472.html

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