The Facts Before Our Eyes: Wittgenstein and the Film Noir Investigator

Keith Dromm


This paper discusses the methods of the investigators in film noir. They are different than those employed by the classic detective of mystery and crime fiction, which involve observation, the collection of clues, logical inference, and are generally modeled on the methods of the scientist. I illuminate the methods of the noir investigator by comparing them to those applied by Ludwig Wittgenstein to philosophical problems. Both the noir investigator and Wittgenstein deal with problems that are intractable to the methods of logic and science. Wittgenstein thought that philosophical problems could not be solved using these methods; I show that the problems that typically confront the noir investigator are similarly resistant to them. Wittgenstein and the noir investigator model alternative methods for solving epistemic problems and in doing so remind us of the limits of science and logic.


Wittgenstein; Film Noir

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