A long-standing aim of film, especially of ‘extreme’ or ‘unwatchable’ cinema, has been to acquaint viewers with extreme suffering. This aim has important extra-aesthetic, epistemic and normative dimensions. Here I argue that only first-person-perspective Virtual Reality can meet them. To support this, I draw on insights from the philosophy of mind, specifically the view that knowledge of suffering is necessarily de se and the view that the de se mode of presentation has an essential role in transformative experience, the sort that extreme cinema aims at. Though prompted by an issue in aesthetics, the article’s overall aim is to advertise the philosophical study of VR by bringing out its transformative potential.
DPhil Seminar Organisors: Chong Ming Lim and James Matharu