Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Towards a Philosophy of Photography” as Want to Read:
Towards a Philosophy of Photography
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Towards a Philosophy of Photography

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  857 ratings  ·  42 reviews
Media philosopher Vilém Flusser proposed a revolutionary new way of thinking about photography. An analysis of the medium in terms of aesthetics, science and politics provided him with new ways of understanding both the cultural crises of the past and the new social forms nascent within them. Flusser showed how the transformation of textual into visual culture (from the li ...more
Paperback, 94 pages
Published December 1st 2000 by Reaktion Books (first published January 1st 1983)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Towards a Philosophy of Photography, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Towards a Philosophy of Photography

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.07  · 
Rating details
 ·  857 ratings  ·  42 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Towards a Philosophy of Photography
Mar 22, 2013 rated it liked it
Interesting attempt to build a theoretical framework around photography, sometimes gratifying, but not always successful. The central idea of an "apparatus," tied to mechanical devices, social systems, and "programmed" with every possibility already inherent in the device itself... it's one of a number of intriguing conceptual turns taken by Flusser.

I sensed two major weaknesses in Flusser's framework. First, he's often rehashing ideas of other thinkers on these topics... Heidegger's ideas about
Mohammad Sadegh Rafizadeh
خب تموم شد ولی انگار تموم نشد😁
کتابو دوبار خوندم یکبار سرکلاس استاد رهام شیراز و یکبار با همخوانی به همراه استاد شیراز که همراه با بحث بسیار جذاب درباره فلسفه عکاسی و ماهیت اون بود. با همه این تفاسیر باز خیلی از مفاهیم برای من گنگ و نامفهوم موند که لازمش مطالعه چند باره این کتاب هست.
کتاب بسیار سنگین ولی راهگشایی هست که بنظرم لازم هست که حتما با یک استاد عکاسی( نظریه پرداز و منتقد باشه، نه فقط عکاس) خونده بشه.
باتوجه به اینکه رهام شیراز خودش مسلط به زبان انگلیسی هست نقدهایی به ترجمه داشت که در فهم
Rodrigo Novaes
Oct 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book is not about photography - it is a political manifesto about freedom in a programmed world.
Paula Koneazny
May 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Brief. Fascinating. According to Flusser, we’re caught, it seems, in a Kafkaesque condition of non-freedom, swallowed up so to speak by our apparatuses. He describes two historical paradigm shifts: the invention of writing, which he situates in the second millennium BCE and the invention of photography in the 19th century. He states that the first humans were surrounded by their tools; then, as a consequence of the Industrial Revolution, humans began to surround their machines; finally, after th ...more
Feb 06, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
به نظرم برای کسایی نوشته شده که درباره عکاسی و بحث های پیرامونش قبلا مطالعه داشتن... ی خرده برای من که تازه میخواستم وارد دنیای عکس بشم مبهم بود بعضی قسمتاش...
بعضی از قسمت ها هم ذهن آدم رو درگیر می کرد و به فکر می انداخت که خیلی خوب بود...
Eduardo Deboni
Mar 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The Czech philosopher, naturalized Brazilian, Vilém Flusser (1920-1991) considers the invention of photography as important as the invention of writing. While writing revolutionized humanity and marked the beginning of the historical period, photography, and its new coding and symbolization of the information, make the post-history, with equally revolutionary developments, developers and modifiers of humanity. He has glimpsed the magical ability of a photographic image could destroy the one-dime ...more
Mark Broadhead
Feb 27, 2015 rated it it was ok
What a mess. A 'philosophy' book without references. A multitude of quips, without thought, or little consistency with what he has said before or will say in the next sentence. Is there no good thinking on photography other than Barthes' Camera Lucida?
Taco Hidde Bakker
Jun 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Texts on photography making you think photography - as system and function of the natural, scientific, and social worlds, rather than as an art or practice. If you want to read about photographers or particular photographs, read others. If you wish to receive stimulating speculation towards thinking photography as abstract category, Flusser is your thought-feeding-machine. But don't forget to free yourself by playing against machines!
Philly Baby
Feb 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant writing, although admittedly strange: a book about the philosophy of photography that contains no images.

Here, Flusser posits photography as a magical act, a lens through which we can examine the current philosophical climate. More specifically, Flusser is very hung up on the idea of the "apparatus", black box devices developed by humans to change our symbolic understanding of the world. Behind this seemingly benign concept lurks the melancholic realization that human freedom is direct
Mar 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Univerzum technických obrazů, tak jak se kolem nás začíná rýsovat, se představuje jako nepřeberné množství časů, ve kterém bez ustání krouží všechny činy a všechna utrpení. Jak se zdá, jen pod tímto apokalyptickým zorným úhlem získává problém fotografie náležité kontury."

Ještěže se se autor nedožil Instagramu, to by ho asi trefil šlak :)
Neuvěřitelně podnětná a vizionářská kniha, kterou autor napsal už v roce 83 (!)
Zoë Holman
Mar 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020
Interesting analysis of our relationship with and understanding of images in a post-photography historical context. If you have any interest in concepts of the information society, Baudrillardian simulation/simulacrum or even just like philosophy and image-making, it's worth a read.
Evaldas Svirplys
Antikapitalistinis manifestas?
Al Matthews
Jul 26, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: literates & art-literates
Hello. So, inspired by friend-traffic on this site I'll begin a temporary but sustained one-per-day or so.

Item one: sorta trendy a certain number (7? 10?) of years back; but really, this seems a very lovely translation and is a very well-couched bit of theory, because it's a great read.

Prospective readers will note this is not so much a sustained analysis of photographic practice as a fresh contribution to typically mealymouthed discussions of the relation between writing and image -- plus a the
Joséphine (Word Revel)
Actual rating: 4.5 stars

Initial thoughts: I expected this book to be rooted more in theory. Instead, Flusser set out to contribute hypotheses to the discourse of photography. He did mention this in the foreword though, so that was clear from the beginning. Towards a Philosophy of Photography is not solely about photography but about the deconstruction of information—how it's encoded and decoded, the cultural influences and how it is conveyed. Flusser broke down photography into the image, the ap
Char Tan
Jul 03, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Flusser's anti-quote bravado and originality is refreshing,vexing, and at times changes how you see everything.

carpe librorum :)
Este ensaio serviu-me de incentivo para uma reflexão crítica sobre a Imagem, mais especificamente sobre a Fotografia. Interessa-me sobretudo tratar da problemática da imagem fotográfica enquanto expressão do pensamento, tentando perceber a intenção do Fotógrafo.

É um livro muito peculiar, o autor tem conceitos próprios que me causaram alguma estranheza, porque não é convencional, tem um discurso particular, fácil de ler mas não justificativo e de certa forma, provocador. Depois de descodificar os
Sean Tatol
Feb 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic, some of the best theory I've read in years and a nearly effortless read. Nothing against Barthes, but I think this is far better than Camera Lucida. He diagnoses image-based media as a technological mediation that obscures our perception of reality while also presenting itself as an unbiased document of reality. Our society is saturated with these images, which leads us to believe in the images as reality itself. This precise phenomenon seems to me to be one of the primary issues of c ...more
Sep 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Possibly the best way to think about the image is to understand the philosophy of photography. In here, Flusser was madly obsessed by the black-box of apparatuses—which means, I think, an interesting starting point to understand techne, or in that matters, technology. Although he might not very systematic when describing the notion of information and value inside a post-industrial object, the way he explores the idea of technical images is pretty much crucial to understand Benjamin's reproductio ...more
Jade Aslain
Mar 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book changed my life. This little hypothesis of Flusser's somehow manages to put to work most of my prior studies in philosophy, without even making a single citation. What we have here seems to effectively replace Marx, for what Marx was to philosophy of history, Flusser is to philosophy of post-history. And at the same time, Flusser has managed to incorporate aspects of both Adornonian and Heideggerian systems (who were rivals). And for the first time I have seen anyone put Nietzsche's et ...more
Nov 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
کتاب با رویکردی کاملا متفاوت و از زاویه ای نوین ب مساله عکس و عکاسی میپردازد.
ب عنوان یک خواننده معمولی ک با مباحث بنیادی فلسفه اشنایی آکادمیک ندارم،مباحث کتاب قابل درک و کاربردی مینمود.
از کتاب بسیار آموختم .برخی از بخشهای کتاب را بارها و بارها خواندم تا به مفهوم اصلی مد نظر نویسنده نزدیک شدم.
تنها نکته ای ک در باب این کتاب قابل انتقاد است،فاصله زمانی انتشار کتاب تا عصر حاضر است ک باعث شده مبحث عکس در این فاصله ۴۰ ساله تغییرات عظیمی از نظر کاربردی و فن اوری در همه زمینه ها نماید،ک این امر باعث میش
Kyle Crawley
Aug 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
A version of Heidegger's 'The Age of the World Picture' where the fourfold take on its technical or cybernetic dimensions (i.e. 'image,' 'apparatus,' 'program,' and 'information'). An interesting read and connected to Flusser's writings on writing (see 'Into Immaterial Culture'). Favourite idea from the text: the the image as surface. Question: why are human beings forced or compelled to reduce the world to surface? As ek-sistence, is this our only way to comprehend it?
Henrique Quadros
Uma visão diferente e muito interessante (e instigante) sobre a fotografia como um elemento social e político. Para quem se interessa em assuntos relacionados a contra-cultura, democratização e automatização da arte, a arte como um elemento industrial e simplesmente análises da pós-industrialização, Filosofia da Caixa Preta é a minha recomendação.
Ray Dunsmore
Feb 07, 2019 rated it liked it
An interesting, fairly necessary slap in the face to get you to step outside yourself and consider the cultural reasoning behind any artistic action and expression through photography. Admittedly, these are just introductory concepts not really fleshed out, but it's a push in the right direction - total consciousness of the culture around you and its reasons for existing in this manner.
Crispin Semmens
Jul 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Exposing the photograph (technical image) as further removed from reality than the linear text - despite seductive surface appearances to the contrary. A step on the path to photographic literacy. Wow.
Luke Coughlin
May 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
An important starting point for serious critical thought about the modern world.
Anya Korbut
May 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Интересное эссе о философии фотографии и визуальных образах. Аппарат и "Функционер" - это мы управляем камерой или камера нами?
Jan 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Difícil, teórico e muito incrível.
Twój Cichy Wielbiciel
May 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Chief Wizards of the Galaxy appointed Vilem Flusser as one of their Earthly Emissaries. This little book proved it to the masses.
Oct 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting reflection about photography as the "hinge" that signals the start of a post-industrial culture. The book looks more like a manifesto than like a philosophical study.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Photograph as Contemporary Art
  • The Mind's Eye: Writings on Photography and Photographers
  • Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography
  • On Photography
  • Techniques of the Observer: On Vision and Modernity in the Nineteenth Century
  • Regarding the Pain of Others
  • Mythologies
  • Postproduction
  • Crash
  • The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility, and Other Writings on Media
  • Richard Avedon Portraits
  • The Photographer's Eye
  • Critique of Pure Reason
  • The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins
  • Speed and Politics
  • Balta drobulė
  • The Soft Machine (The Nova Trilogy #1)
See similar books…
Vilém Flusser was a philosopher born in Czechoslovakia. He lived for a long period in Brazil and later in France, and his works are written in several different languages.
His early work was marked by discussion of the thought of Martin Heidegger, and by the influence of existentialism and phenomenology. Phenomenology would play a major role in the transition to the later phase of his work, in whic

News & Interviews

In these strange days of quarantine and isolation, books can be a mode of transport. We may have to stay home and stay still, but through t...
35 likes · 24 comments
“Both those taking snaps and documentary photographers, however, have not understood 'information.' What they produce are camera memories, not information, and the better they do it, the more they prove the victory of the camera over the human being.” 20 likes
“The task of a philosophy of photography is to reflect upon this possibility of freedom - and thus its significance - in a world dominated by apparatuses; to reflect upon the way in which, despite everything, it is possible for human beings to give significance to their lives in the face of the chance necessity of death. Such a philosophy is necessary because it is the only form of revolution left open to us.” 13 likes
More quotes…