The NEW Philosoflicks 3: What Makes Life Worth Dying For?

Mr Nemo
4 min readJun 30, 2017


Zoom in. Dylan Thomas burning the cigarette of life at both ends.

The OLD Philosoflicks was a series of seven experimental works in philosophy that were published online in the edgy, radical philosophy blog Against Professional Philosophy between July 2015 and May 2016:

Philosoflicks 1: You Are Not a Machine!

Philosoflicks 2, Installment 1: Frankenstein; Or, The Modern Prometheus, Preface & Letters I-IV.

Philosoflicks 2, Installment 2: Frankenstein; Or, The Modern Prometheus, Volume 1, Chapter 1.

Philosoflicks 3: On the Metaphysics of Puppets.

Philosoflicks 4: The Vienna Circle Meets The Hollow Men Meets Flitcraft Meets Us.

Philosoflicks 5: caesargodkantgoldman.

Philosoflicks 6: Thoughtless Images, aka Guns R Us.

OK. So what’s a “philosoflick”?

Here’s what the author of The OLD Philosoflicks said —

In “Let’s Make More Movies,” the epistemological anarchist Paul Feyerabend wrote this:

The separation of subjects that is such a pronounced characteristic of modern philosophy is … not altogether undesirable. It is a step on the way to a more satisfactory type of myth. What is needed to proceed further is not the return to harmony and stability as too many critics of the status quo, Marxists included, seem to think, but a form of life in which the constituents of older myths — theories, books, images, emotions, sounds, institutions — enter as interacting but antagonistic elements. Brecht’s theatre was an attempt to create such a form of life. He did not entirely succeed. I suggest we try movies instead. (P. Feyerabend, “Let’s Make more Movies,” in The Owl of Minerva: Philosophers on Philosophy, Ch. J. Bontempo and S. J. Odell (eds), McGraw-Hill: New York 1975, pp. 201–210.)

By cine-phenomenology, I mean the direct expression of philosophical ideas in cinematic, visual terms, from a first-person point of view.

Intertitles are printed texts inserted into (especially silent) films in order to convey dialogue, descriptions, or expository material directly relevant to but not necessarily covered by the filmed material, e.g.,

And montage is the cinematic technique, discovered by Sergei Eisenstein, of combining, juxtaposing, ordering, and sequencing (more generally, synthesizing) visual images for the production of various kinds of aesthetic and emotional effect.

A philosoflick is an experiment in visual philosophy, blending text and images–employing cine-phenomenology, intertitles, and montage–inspired by Feyerabend and Eisenstein, by Chris Marker’s La Jetée, and by W.G. Sebald’s pictorial novels.


I think that The OLD Philosoflicks were very cool; but I also think that their author barely scratched the surface of what can done with this experiment in visual philosophy.

So that’s why I’ve undertaken a new series of philosoflicks here on Medium — hence The NEW Philosoflicks.

The first in that series was about Nietzsche’s critique of metaphysics, the nature of reality, and the profundity of movies, Nietzsche Does Hollywood.

The second was about human unhappiness, poetic empathy, and the minds, lives, and deaths of non-human animals, Death of Hedgehog.

This one is about lives and deaths too — only this time they’re our own.


The Next NEW Philosoflick


It is a brute fact of human life that we are always getting closer to what Kant aptly called “the end of all things”[i] whether this will be a purely natural ending to everything human, or a man-made Apocalypse, like something out of Neville Shute’s grim 1957 novel, On the Beach.
But at a first-person level, it is also a brute fact that from the very moment I begin to live as the conscious subject of my own human personal life, I am always getting closer to the cessation or end of that life.
Therefore I am always getting closer to my own death.
In that sense, my life-process is identically the same as the process of my dying.
My own life is also my own death.
This recognition, as they say, concentrates the attention — e.g., Edward Hopper’s attention.
Is a rational human life truly worth living? Yes.
But why?
By “principled authenticity” I mean an existentially extended and reformulated version of what Kant calls a “good will,” in that it is a coherent fusion of what he calls “autonomy” together with what Kierkegaard calls “purity of heart.”
As I am construing these, “autonomy” is a rational minded animal’s capacity for real freedom of the will and moral self-legislation; and “purity of heart” is psychological coherence, single-mindedness, and wholeheartedness.
Now a rational human life is worth living precisely because of the opportunities it provides us for incarnating autonomy and purity of heart.
Thus a certain kind of rational human life — a life in which principled authenticity is achieved or realized, at least partially or to some degree — is truly worth living.
Indeed, if I am correct, then it is the only kind of rational human life that is truly worth living.
So the meaning of a rational human life is the pursuit of principled authenticity.
But in order to have such a life, we must live wholeheartedly for the sake of all and only those things that are truly worth dying for; and all of them are inherently bound up with respect for the absolute intrinsic objective value, or dignity, of human persons.
This may seem paradoxical, living for just those things truly worth dying for, but it is not.
It is built into the nature of the rational human condition, built into the nature of our complete, finite, and unique lives, and therefore also built into the morality of our own deaths.
Therefore do not go gentle into that good night.
On the contrary, you ought to rage against the dying of the light — and because you ought to do it, it follows that you freely can.
Zoom out. Then fade to black.


[i] I. Kant, “The End of All Things,” trans. A. Wood and G. Di Giovanni, in Immanuel Kant: Religion and Rational Theology (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1996), p. 221–231.


The Next NEW Philosoflick


The NEW Philosoflicks is a sub-project of the online mega-project Philosophy Without Borders, which is home-based on Patreon here.



Mr Nemo

Formerly Captain Nemo. A not-so-very-angry, but still unemployed, full-time philosopher-nobody.