Cornel West @ Examined Life (A film by Astra Taylor)

Cornel West“I’m a bluesman in the life of the mind…” – Cornel West

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“The unexamined life is not worth living.”

Examined Life pulls philosophy out of academic journals and classrooms, and puts it back on the streets…

In Examined Life, filmmaker Astra Taylor accompanies some of today’s most influential thinkers on a series of unique excursions through places and spaces that hold particular resonance for them and their ideas.

Peter Singer’s thoughts on the ethics of consumption are amplified against the backdrop of Fifth Avenue’s posh boutiques. Slavoj Zizek questions current beliefs about the environment while sifting through a garbage dump. Michael Hardt ponders the nature of revolution while surrounded by symbols of wealth and leisure. Judith Butler and a friend stroll through San Francisco’s Mission District questioning our culture’s fixation on individualism. And while driving through Manhattan, Cornel West—perhaps America’s best-known public intellectual—compares philosophy to jazz and blues, reminding us how intense and invigorating a life of the mind can be. Offering privileged moments with great thinkers from fields ranging from moral philosophy to cultural theory, Examined Life reveals philosophy’s power to transform the way we see the world around us and imagine our place in it.

Featuring Cornel West, Avital Ronell, Peter Singer, Kwame Anthony Appiah, Martha Nussbaum, Michael Hardt, Slavoj Zizek, Judith Butler and Sunaura Taylor.

– Zeitgeist Films

Derrida (2002, Zeitgeist Films) – A documentary by Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering Kofman


“DERRIDA is a playful, personal and theoretical portrait of the internationally renowned French philosopher, Jacques Derrida. Best known for originating the movement known as “deconstruction,” Derrida’s radical rethinking of the precepts on which Western metaphysics are founded has deeply influenced the studies of literature, philosophy, ethics, architecture and law, indelibly marking the intellectual landscape of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Produced with Derrida’s full cooperation and consent, the film is the most ambitious cinematic project ever undertaken with a world-class philosopher. Initiated by Amy Ziering Kofman, who studied with Derrida at Yale in the 1980s, and co-directed by Kirby Dick and Ziering Kofman, Derrida is neither a conventional film biography nor a primer on his thinking. Rather, in the spirit of Derrida’s own writing, the film investigates the concept of biography itself and explores the nature and limitations of the cinematic form in addressing philosophical thought.

Braiding together rare vérité footage of Derrida in his private life with his reflections on deconstruction, violence, the structure of love, the history of philosophy and the death of his mother, the film raises questions about the relationship between the public and the private, the personal and the theoretical, the biographical and the  philosophical. It is a rich and moving meditation on both Derrida himself and the themes that haunt and inspire his work.”


“Brilliant and controversial, Jacques Derrida is one of the most important thinkers of our time, his considerable body of work having ineradicably altered the landscape of thought in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Best known for having formulated a theoretical analysis which is commonly refered to as “deconstruction”, Derrida’s writings on language, rhetoric and philosophy interrogate and challenge the formulations of certain basic precepts of Western metaphysics — precepts such as presence, truth, the position of the subject and nature of identity.

Born in Algiers in 1930 , Derrida immigrated to Paris in his teens to further pursue his studies in philosophy, language and literature, going on after college to earn a graduate a degree in philosophy from the Ecole Normale Superieure and pursue a career in teaching.

His profound impact on contemporary thought began in 1967 with the simultaneous publication of three major works (‘Speech and Phenomena’, ‘Writing and Difference’, and ‘Of Grammatology’) — works which began to articulate his extensive and radical critique of Western metaphysics; a critique which draws, in part, from the writings of Nietzche, Freud, Heidegger, Marx and Levinas. Since this first publication blitz, Derrida has since gone on to publish over 45 books which have been translated in over 22 languages worldwide. His work has been read and disseminated by a broad range of cultures and disciplines, profoundly influencing fields as varied and disparate as art, literature, law, ethics, music, history, architecture and fashion.

Politically active and deeply committed to furthering the course of social justice, Derrida has speculated that his early childhood experiences of intense anti-semitism which, among other things, led to his expulsion from the Algerian public schools at an early age, prompted him to devote his life work to rethinking positions of racism, power, and oppression using his sharp and surprising analytical skills to address the ways in which they overtly and covertly operate. As such his work has opened up spaces of critical thought to a wide variety of cultures and forces informing a wide range of human rights movements.

A lifetime of teaching in both Europe and abroad, (Sorbonne, Ecole Normale Superieure, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Johns Hopkins University, Yale, The New School, NYU, UC Irvine) extensive publications and frequent activist interventions (France, Czechoslovakia, South Africa and the U.S.) have led him to become one of the most cited and influential contemporary intellectual figures. Paradoxically, a person who is at once both extremely private and extremely public, Derrida is one of the most important, profound and intriguing thinkers living today.”

Download Jacques Derrida’s Selected Works
A compilation of 60 books (and 50 journal articles)