Surrealism is a part of what Horkheimer and Adorno call “the Dialectic of Enlightenment.” The Enlightenment was a movement that began in the 17th and 18th centuries as a response to the increasing power of science to explain things in the world. A consequence of this power, which included all sorts of new technologies, was a great optimism about curing all of the ills that beleaguered human kind. The actual results, however, were not unmixed. From nerve gases and new military technologies deployed in WWI to concentration camps and atomic bombs in WWII, human use of the fruits of science were not always to the good. The Dialectic of Enlightenment identifies and explores the dark side of the Enlightenment and scientific “advancements.” One form that the reaction to the Enlightenment, as a privileging of the rational over the irrational, took was a celebration of irrationality. If rationality might get us all killed, maybe irrationality will save us. Salvador Dalí is a premier purveyor of the irrational.
This presentation by Professor Richard Gilmore in conjunction with Philosophy For All. Richard Gilmore teaches philosophy at Concordia College. One of his specialties is philosophy and film and he has published two books in that area: Doing Philosophy at the Movies and Searching for Wisdom in the Movies.
Free and open to the public.