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I take the Aristotelean view that the question for ethics is ‘How should I live?’ and the question for politics is ‘How are we supposed to live?’ Aristotle’s next step was to argue that in both instances, these are questions about the good life. These are fundamentally aesthetic questions. So let me advance as a hypothesis that the reason for doing any of the art, science and critique we undertake is happiness. The world we have is unhappy, so happiness depends on negating what is given to us as the world. That is what images do: they negate the world in order to produce pictures that are more startling, richer, surer, more filled with meaning and more desirable than what we have to inhabit. Even images of unhappy events attempt to heal them. An image aspires to happiness. The proliferation of images is a different matter.
Sean Cubitt is professor of film and television in the Department of Media and Communications at Goldsmiths, University of London and Honorary Professorial Fellow of the University of Melbourne. He writes and teaches on the history and philosophy of media and media aesthetics. He has worked in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the USA. He is series editor of Leonardo Books for MIT 13. Press.
Contact: Department of Media and Communications, Goldsmiths, University of London, New Cross, London SE14 6NW, UK.