In his online bio, Penn State lecturer Phillip McReynolds confesses his “unhealthy fascination with movies.” McReynolds channels that obsession to healthy effect in his documentary “American Philosopher.” The film — which is really a series of 8 shorts — features interviews with Richard Rorty, Hilary Putnam, Joseph Margolis, Crispin Sartwell, Richard Bernstein, and many other prominent philosophers. The conversation generally turns around pragmatism, the national character, and the central question: Is there such a thing as a native American Philosophy?
Our favorite section is probably Part 6, “Progress:” It features a lively 2002 debate between Rorty and Putnam which (the film argues) was largely responsible for the revival of pragmatism as a viable school of thought.
(Not surprisingly, Mr. McReynolds did his dissertation on John Dewey.)
Sheerly Avni is a San Francisco-based arts and culture writer. Her work has appeared in Salon, LA Weekly, Mother Jones, and many other publications. You can follow her on twitter at @sheerly.