Steven M Sanders

Television is the definitive medium of popular culture. With its mass audience, TV has become indispensable for transmitting the legacy of film noir and producing new forms of noir. The Philosophy of TV Noir was conceived in the belief that the themes, styles, and sensibilities of film noir are preserved even as they are transformed in a variety of television series from the mid-1950s to the present.

No doubt readers can identify the principal characters and describe numerous episodes of many of the television series discussed in this book. But while one's knowledge of TV noir may be extensive in this respect, it may be less so when it comes to understanding the philosophical ideas presupposed and reflected by such programming. For, in addition to its importance as a cultural phenomenon, noir television is particularly valuable in dramatizing situations and experiences that raise philosophical questions about how to live, what kind of person one should be, and what, if anything, gives meaning to life. This is where philosophical explanations are most helpful. The essays in this volume were written to stimulate and engage intelligent nonspecialist readers and to enliven discussion about such themes as alienation, nihilism, personal identity, and autonomy. These topics will be timely as long as crime, freedom, heroism, and anxiety are part of the human condition. In this introductory essay I want to discuss the nature, scope, exemplary instances, and philosophical dimensions of TV noir and to provide an overview of the volume.

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