This collection of essays is driven by the question of how we know what we know, and in particular how we can be certain about something even when we know it is an illusion. The contention of the book is that this age-old question has acquired a new urgency as certain trends in science, technology and ideas have taken the discussion of consciousness out of the philosophy department and deposited it in the world at large. As a consequence, a body of literature from many fields has produced its own sets of concerns and methods under the rubric of Consciousness Studies. Each contribution in this collection deals with issues and questions that lots of people have been thinking about for many years in many different contexts, things such as the nature of film, cinema, world, mind and so on. Those of us fascinated by these diverse yet related issues may have often felt we were working in a disciplinary no-man's-land. Now suddenly, it seems with Consciousness Studies we have a coherent intellectual home - albeit one that is self-consciously eclectic.
The essays included in Screen Consciousness: Cinema, Mind and World are from a range of disciplines - art, philosophy, film theory, anthropology and technology studies - each represented by significant international figures, and each concerned with how their field is being transformed by the new discipline of Consciousness Studies. Together they attempt to reconcile the oncoming rush of new data from science and technology about how we know what we know, with the insights gained from the long view of history, philosophy and art. Each of the contributions seeks to interpose Consciousness Studies between film and mind, where for cultural theorists psychoanalysis had traditionally stood. This is more than simply updating Film Studies or nodding in the direction of cognitive film theory. Film, with all its sentient, sensuous and social qualities, is a common reference point between all these forces, and Consciousness Studies provides the intellectual impetus for this book to revisit familiar problems with fresh insight.