Department of Philosophy

Robert Sinnerbrink

Robert SinnerbrinkBA Sydney, PhD Sydney

Robert Sinnerbrink is currently Senior Lecturer in Philosophy and an ARC Future Fellowship recipient. As an undergraduate he studied medicine, creative writing, film, and philosophy. He received First Class Honours and the University Medal in Philosophy before being awarded his PhD on Hegel, Heidegger, and the Metaphysics of Modernity at the University of Sydney in 2002 ( As a postgraduate candidate he spent six months studying at the Humboldt Universität in Berlin. After returning to Australia, he taught philosophy at a number of institutions including the University of Sydney, UTS, UNSW, The College of Fine Arts, and Macquarie University, before joining the Macquarie Department of Philosophy in July 2002.

Robert's research areas of interest include Continental Philosophy, philosophy of film, critical theory, aesthetics, romanticism, Heidegger, and social philosophy. He is currently undertaking an ARC Future Fellowship project (FT130100334) entitled 'Cinematic Ethics: Exploring Ethical Experience through Film' (2014-2017), which includes a research collaboration with the University of Glasgow.

Robert is a former Chair of the Australasian Society for Continental Philosophy (ASCP) and is currently a member of the ASCP's executive committee. He has been a member of the Sydney Society for Literature and Aesthetics, the International Association for Philosophy and Literature, and a former co-convenor of the Sydney Seminar for the Arts and Philosophy. He is currently on the editorial boards of the journals Film-Philosophy and Transformations, the editorial advisory board of Parrhesia: A Journal of Critical Philosophy and the general editorial board of the journal Derrida Today (Edinburgh University Press).

His current research explores the intersection between philosophy and cinema with a focus on the idea of cinematic ethics: the philosophical potential of cinema as a medium of ethical experience.


Robert currently teaches or has taught the following units:

  • PHL 131 Mind and World
  • PHL 132 Happiness, Goodness and Justice
  • PHL 238 Existential Questions
  • PHL 250 Aesthetics
  • PHL 254 Freedom and Domination
  • PHL 351 Social Philosophy
  • PHL 356 Work and the Good Life
  • PHL 365 Film and Philosophy
  • Honours Seminars: Contemporary political philosophy and the problem of recognition; Advanced Aesthetics; Heidegger and Nietzsche; Film as Philosophy
Graduate Supervision
  • Ludo de Roo (Master of Research). Topic: 'The Four Elements of Ecocinema: A Phenomenological Approach to Cinematic Aesthetics' (passed 2016)
  • Michael Mosely (Master of Research). Topic: 'Φύσις [Physis] on Film? Heidegger, Art,and the Cinematic Manifestation of Being' (passed 2015)
  • Philip Martin (Master of Research). Topic: 'Fate, Freedom and Anime-Worldliness: From Heidegger and Nishida to Anime-Philosophy' (passed 2014)
  • David Hickling (Master of Research). Topic: 'The Ethical Significance of Levinas's Aesthetics' (passed 2014)
  • Sarah Simpson, PhD candidate (co-supervised with Media), Topic: The Metaphysics of the Screenplay (passed 2014).
  • Alison Beale, MPhil Candidate. Topic: Nausea, Freedom, and the Early Sartre: A Case Study (passed 2013).
  • Adam Tate, Heidegger's Concept of Fundamental Ontological Transcendence in the late 1920s, PhD (passed 2012).
  • Emma Simone, Virginia Woolf and Being-in-the-World (supervised with A/Prof. Marea Mitchell, English), PhD (passed 2012).
  • Paolo Bolanos, Language, Critique, and the Non-Identical: Nietzsche and Adorno on the Ethics of Thinking, PhD (passed July 2010).
  • Berndt Sellheim, L'absente de tous bouquets: Linguistic Negativity in Martin Heidegger and Maurice Merleau-Ponty, PhD (passed 2008) [co-supervised with Jean-Philippe Deranty].
  • Emma Robinson, Psychoanalysis, Cinema, and the Cultural Politics of Memory: Nostalgia and the Work of Mourning in Kieslowski's Trois Coleurs Trilogy (passed 2004).

List of publications

Cinematic Ethics by Robert SinnerbrinkNew Philosophies of Film by Robert SinnerbrinkPHIL - Understanding Hegal book coveCritique Today book cover


  • Cinematic Ethics: Exploring Ethical Experience through Film (Abingdon and New York: Routledge, 2016)
  • New Philosophies of Film: Thinking Images (New York/London: Continuum, 2011)
  • Understanding Hegelianism (Chesham: Acumen Press, 2007)
  • Critique Today (edited with Jean-Philippe Deranty, Nicholas Smith, and Peter Schmiedgen) (Leiden: Brill, 2006)
  • Recognition, Work, Politics: New Directions in French Critical Theory (edited with Jean-Philippe Deranty, Danielle Petherbridge, and John Rundell) (Leiden: Brill, 2007).
Book chapters
  • 'Provocation and Perversity: Lars von Trier's cinematic anti-philosophy'. In The Global Auteur: The Politics of Authorship in 21st Century Cinema, ed. Seung-hoon Jeong and Jeremi Szaniawski (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2016), pp. 95-114.
  • 'Angelopoulos' Gaze: Modernism, History, Cinematic Ethics'. In The Cinema of Theo Angelopolous, ed. Angelos Koutsourakis and Mark Stevens (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2015), pp. 80-96.
  • "Postsecular ethics: the case of Iñárittu's Biutiful" in Costica Bradatan and Camil Ungureanu (eds.), Religion in Contemporary European CinemaThe Postsecular Constellation (London/New York: Routledge, 2014), pp. 165-185.
  • "Black Swan: A History of Continental Philosophy in Australia and New Zealand" (co-authored with Matheson Russell) in L. Burns, F. Leigh, S. Gardner, G. Oppy, & N.N Trakakis (eds) A History of Australasian Philosophy, (Dordrecht: Springer, 2014), pp. 623-664 [17 000 words].
  • "SilencioMulholland Drive as Cinematic Romanticism" in Z. Giannopoulous (ed.) Mulholland Drive (Philosophers on Film), (London: Routledge, 2013), 75-96.
  • "Film-Philosophy" entry in Edward Branigan and Warren Buckland (eds.), The Routledge Encyclopedia of Film Theory (London/New York: Routledge, 2013).
  • "The Volcano and the Dream: Consequences of Romanticism", in P. Diego Bubbio and Paul Redding (eds.), Religion after Kant: God and Culture in the Idealist Era (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Press, 2012), pp. 23-46.
  • "Song of the Earth: Cinematic Romanticism in Malick's The New World," in Thomas Deane Tucker and Stuart Kendall (eds), Terrence Malick: Film and Philosophy (London/New York: Continuum, 2011), pp. 179-196.
  • "Questioning Style," Andrew Klevan and Alex Clayton (eds), The Language and Style of Film Criticism (London: Routledge, 2011), pp. 38-53.
  • "Re-Enfranchising Film: Towards a Romantic Film-Philosophy," Havi Carel and Greg Tuck (eds), New Takes in Film-Philosophy (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), pp. 25-47.
  • "Disenfranchising Film? On the Analytic-Cognitivist Turn in Film Theory," James Williams, Ed Mares, Jack Reynolds, James Chase (eds.), Postanalytic and Metacontinental: Crossing Philosophical Divides (Continuum, 2010), pp. 173-189.
  • "Hugo Münsterberg" in Felicity Colman (ed.), Film, Theory and Philosophy (Durham: Acumen Publishing, 2009), 20-30.
  • "Violence, Destruction and Sovereignty: Derrida and Agamben on Benjamin's 'Critique of Violence'" in A. Benjamin and C. Rice (eds.) Walter Benjamin and the Architecture of Modernity (Melbourne:, 2009), 77-91. 
  • "Terrence Malick's The Thin Red Line and The Question of Heideggerian Cinema" in V. Karalis (ed.) Heidegger and the Aesthetics of Living (Cambridge Scholars Press, 2008), pp. 126-141.
  • "Sein und Geist: Heidegger's Confrontation with Hegel's Phenomenology" in P. Ashton, T. Nicolacopoulous, and G. Vassilacopoulos (eds.) The Spirit of the Age: Hegel and the Fate of Thinking (Melbourne:, 2008), pp. 185-204.
  • "Misrecognition and Moral Injury: Reflections on Honneth and Bernstein" in M. Sharpe, J. Freddi, M. Noonan (eds.), Trauma, Historicity, Philosophy (with Special Essays by Agnes Heller and György Markus) (Cambridge Scholars Press, 2007), pp. 282-301.
  • "Critique, Hope, Power: Contemporary Challenges of Critical Theory" (with Jean-Philippe Deranty and Nicholas H. Smith) in Critique Today (ed. R. Sinnerbrink, J-P. Deranty, N. H. Smith, P. Schmiedgen) (Leiden: Brill, 2006), pp. 1-21.
  • "Recognitive Freedom: Hegel and the Problem of Recognition", in J. Rundell, D. Petherbridge, J. Bryant, J. Hewitt, J. Smith, Contemporary Perspectives in Critical and Social Philosophy (Leiden: Brill, 2004), pp. 271-295.
  • "Violence and Subjectivity: Domination and Subjection" in Hegel and Nietzsche?" in Anatomies of Violence: An Interdisciplinary Investigation, ed. R. Walker, K. Brass, and J. Byron (Sydney: RIHSS Publications, 2000), pp. 37-50.
  • 'Photobiographies: The Derrida Documentaries as Film-Philosophy', NECSUS, European Journal of Media Studies, 'Small Data', Spring (2016):
  • 'Cinempathy: Phenomenology, Cognitivism, and Moving Images', Contemporary Aesthetics, Contemporary Perspectives on Film and Philosophy, Special Volume 5 (2016):
  • "'Love Everything': Cinema and Belief in Malick's The Tree of Life", Symposium: Canadian Journal of Continental Philosophy / Revue Canadienne de Philosophie Continentale, Vol. 20, Issue 1 (Spring 2016): 91-105.
  • "Anatomy of Melancholia", Angelaki: A Journal of the Theoretical Humanities 19(2) (December 2014): 111-126.
  • "Cavellian Meditations: How to Do Things with Film and Philosophy", Film-Philosophy, The Stanley Cavell Issue, vol. 17, no. 2 (August 2014):
  • "Cavellian Meditations", Conversations: The Journal of Cavellian Studies, Issue 2 (2014): 75-91
  • "Early Film-Philosophy: A Dialectical Fable", Screening the Past, Issue 38 (December 2013):
  • "The Uses of Disenchantment: Remarks on Rebecca Comay's Mourning Sickness: Hegel and the French Revolution", Parrhesia: A Journal of Critical Philosophy, no. 17 (2013): 44-49 [Panel Discussion with response by the author]:
  •  "Cinematic Belief: Bazinian Cinephilia and Malick's The Tree of Life", Angelaki, vol. 17, no. 4 (December 2012): 95-117.
  • "Sea-Change: Transforming the 'Crisis' in Film Theory", Necsus: European Journal of Media Studies, Inaugural Issue on 'Crisis', no. 1 (Spring 2012):
  • "Stimmung: Exploring the Aesthetics of Mood", Screen, Special Issue on Aesthetics, vol. 53, no 2 (Summer 2012): 148-163.
  • "Critical Theory as Disclosing Critique: A Response to Kompridis," Constellations: An International Journal of Critical and Democratic Theory, vol, 19, no. 3 (2012), 369-381.
  • "A Post-Humanist Moralist: Michael Haneke's Cinematic Critique", Angelaki, Special Issue: Limits of the Human, vol. 16, no. 4, December 2011, pp. 115-129.
  • "The Future of Critical Theory? Kompridis on World-Disclosing Critique," Philosophy and Social Criticism, 37(9), November 2011, 1-9.
  • Goodbye Lenin? Zizek on Neo-Liberal Ideology and Post-Marxist Politics", International Journal of Zizek Studies, vol. 4, no. 2 (2010):
  • "'Cognitivism Goes to the Movies: Paisley Livingston and Carl Plantinga (eds.), The Routledge Companion to Philosophy and Film; Carl Plantinga, Moving Viewers: American Film and the Spectator's Experience; Torben Grodal, Embodied Visions: Evolution, Emotion, Culture, and Film" (Review Article), Projections: The Journal for Movies and Mind, Volume 4, Issue 1, Summer 2010, pp. 83-98.
  • "From Mythic History to Cinematic Poetry: The New World Viewed", Screening the Past, Issue 26 (2009):
  • "Culture Industry Redux: Stiegler and Derrida on Technics and Cultural Politics", Transformations Journal (online), Issue 17 (2009):
  • "Neo-Liberalism or Neo-Anarchism Yes, Please! A Response to Simon Critchley's Infinitely Demanding", Critical Horizons: A Journal of Philosophy and Social Theory, 10(2), August 2009, pp. 163-179.
  • "The Hegelian 'Night of the World': Zizek on Subjectivity, Negativity, and Universality", International Journal of Zizek Studies, Special Issue on Zizek and Hegel, vol. 2, no. 2 (2008): 1-21:
  • "Time, Affect, and the Brain: Deleuze's Cinematic Aesthetics (Review-article), Film-Philosophy, vol. 12, no. 1, April 2008, pp. 85-96:
  • "Sein und Geist: Heidegger's Confrontation with Hegel's Phenomenology" in "Rethinking the Place of Philosophy with Hegel", Special Issue of Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, vol 3, nos. 2-3 (2007) 132-152:
  • "The Politics of the Multiple: On Alain Badiou's Being and Event" in Critical Horizons: A Journal of Philosophy and Social Theory 8(1), (August 2007): 96-115.
  • "Grace and Violence: Questioning Politics and Desire in Lars von Trier's Dogville" in Scan: Journal of Media Arts Culture, vol 4. no.2 (August 2007):
  • "A Heideggerian Cinema? On Terrence Malick's The Thin Red Line," Film-Philosophy, vol. 10, no. 3, (December 2006): 26-37.Available as pdf.
  • "Ereignis, Technology, Art: Poetic Dwelling in the Later Heidegger," Literature and Aesthetics, vol. 16, no.1 (June 2006): 81-94.
  • "Cinema and its Shadow: Mario Perniola's Art and its Shadow," Film-Philosophy, "Continental Film Philosophy Today," vol. 10, no. 2 (September 2006): 31-38. Available as pdf.
  • "Nomadology or Ideology? Zizek's Critique of Deleuze" in Parrhesia. A Journal of Critical Philosophy, No. 1 (July 2006) Available as pdf.
  • "Deconstructive Justice and the 'Critique of Violence': On Derrida and Benjamin," Social Semiotics, vol. 16. no. 3 (September 2006): 485-497.
  • "From Machenschaft to Biopolitics: A Genealogical Critique of Biopower" in Critical Horizons, Vol. 6, Issue 1 (November 2005): 239-265.
  • "Critique, Hope, Power: Contemporary Challenges of Critical Theory" (co-authored with Jean-Philippe Deranty and Nicholas H. Smith) in Critical Horizons, Vol. 6, Issue 1 (November 2005): 1-21.
  • "Cinematic Ideas: David Lynch's Mulholland Drive," Film-Philosophy, Vol. 9. No. 34 (June 2005). Available online.
  • "Recognitive Freedom: Hegel and the Problem of Recognition?" Critical Horizons, Vol. 5 (2004) 271-295.
  • "Heidegger and the 'End of Art'", Literature and Aesthetics, Vol. 14, No. 1 (June 2004): 89-109.
  • "Hegel and the Mythology of Manys", International Journal of Philosophical Studies, Vol. 11, No. 2 (2003) 235-244.
  • We Hyperboreans: Platonism and Politics in Heidegger and Nietzsche, Contretemps: an Online Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 3 (July 2002):
  • Active Slaves and Reactive Masters, Deleuze's Anti-Dialectical Nietzsche, Social Semiotics, Vol. 7, No. 2 (1997) 147-160
  • "His Master's VoiceDerrida and Vocal-Writing", Essays in Sound 3: Diffractions, Contemporary Sound Arts, Sydney, pp 74-80.
  • The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover: A Discourse on Disgust, in Film: Matters of Style, special edition of Continuum: The Australian Journal of Culture and Media, ed. Adrian Martin Vol. 5, No. 2, 1990 (1992), pp. 352-365. Available online at:
Encyclopaedia Entries
  • "Hegel" entry in Rex Butler (ed.), The Zizek Dictionary (Durham: Acumen Press, 2013)
  • "French Philosophy," entry in G. Oppy and N.N. Trakakis (eds), A Companion to Philosophy in Australia and New Zealand (Clayton: Monash University Publishing, 2010), pp. 242-248.
  • "The Australasian Society for Continental Philosophy" (co-authored with Matthew Sharpe) in G. Oppy and N.N. Trakakis (eds), A Companion to Philosophy in Australia and New Zealand (Clayton: Monash University Publishing, 2010), pp. 92-94.
Special Journal Issues
  • Film-Philosophy, The Stanley Cavell Issue, 17(2) (2014) (Forthcoming August 2014) [Co-edited with David Sorfa]
  • Screening the Past, Issue 38: Special Dossier: Cinematic Thinking: [Co-edited with Lisa Trahair]
  • Parrhesia: A Journal of Critical Philosophy, Special ASCP (Australasian Society of Continental Philosophy) Issue, Issue 11, 2011: [Co-edited with Dr Jon Roffe]
  • Critical Horizons: A Journal of Philosophy and Social Theory, 10(2), August 2009, "Ethics of Resistance, Politics of Transformation: On Simon Critchley's Infinitely Demanding" [Co-edited with Dr Philip Quadrio]
  • Scan: Journal of Media Arts Culture (,
  • "Film as Philosophy", July 2007) [Co-edited with Dr Fiona Jenkins]
  • Supercinema: Film-Philosophy for the Digital Age. William Brown. New York: Berghahn Books, 2013. Pp. 198 (cloth). In Affirmations: Of the Modern 2(2) (2015): 135-145.
  • Absolute Recoil: Towards a New Foundation of Dialectical Materialism, Slavoj Žižek. London: Verso Books, 2014. 416pp.
  • 'Bloodsworth-Lugo, Mary K. and Dan Flory, eds. Race, Philosophy, and Film. New York: Routledge, 2013, xiii + 235 pp., 8 b&w illus., $125.00 cloth' Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 72(3) (July 2014): 340-342.
  • Derek Allen, Art and Time, Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2013, pp. xvi þ181, ₤40 (hardback). Australasian Journal of Philosophy. Published online 2013, DOI: 10.1080/00048402.2013.858756.
  • Richard Rushton, The Reality of Film (Manchester University Press, 2012), Screen, 53:3 (Autumn 2012): 323-326.
  • Terrence Malick and the Thought of Film, Steven Rybin Lexingham Books, 2012), Screening the Past, Issue 34:
  • Deleuze and World Cinemas, David Martin-Jones (Book Review) (New York/London: Continuum, 2011), Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews, Available online:
  • Mission: Impossible: Review Article, Mission: Impossible-Matthew Sharpe and Geoff Boucher, Zizek and Politics: A Critical Introduction, Edinburgh University Press, 2010, Parrhesia, No. 13, 2011, pp. 204-211. Available online:
  • Global Discourse, Review of Geoff Boucher, The Charmed Circle of Ideology: A Critique of Laclau & Mouffe, Butler and Zizek, Melbourne:, pp. 288. (
  • Movies as Mythmaking: Irving Singer, Cinematic Mythmaking (Book Review) (Cambridge, Ma.: The MIT Press, 2008), Film-Philosophy, 14.1m 2010. Available online at:
  • David James, Hegel: A Guide for the Perplexed (Book Review) (London/New York: Continuum, 2007) in Bulletin de Litterature hegelienne XVIII, Archives de Philosophie, 2008 forthcoming. See
  • David James, Hegel's Philosophy of Right: Subjectivity and Ethical Life (Book Review) (London/New York: Continuum, 2007) in Bulletin de Litterature hegelienne XVIII, Archives de Philosophie, 2008. See
  • Simon Glendinning, The Idea of Continental Philosophy (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2006) (Book Note),Australasian Journal of Philosophy, vol. 86, no. 4, December 2008, p. 696-697.
  • Nikolas Kompridis, Philosophical Romanticism (Book Review) (London/New York: Routledge, 2007), in Critical Horizons, vol. 9, no. 1, 2008, pp. 112-120.
  • "Review Essay: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Lynch But Were Afraid to Ask Lacan," Todd McGowan, The Impossible David Lynch (New York: Columbia University Press, 2007), in South Atlantic Review, vol. 72, no. 4, Fall 2007, pp. 128-132.
  • Alison Ross, The Aesthetic Paths of Philosophy: Presentation in Kant, Heidegger, Lacoue-Labarthe, and Nancy (Stanford University Press, 2007) in Parrhesia: A Journal of Critical Philosophy, no 3, 2007. Available online at:
  • Daniel Frampton, Filmosophy (London: BFI Press, 2006) in Projections: The Journal for Movies and Mind, volume 1, no. 2 (Winter 2007): 109-115.
  • Elliot L. Jurist, Beyond Hegel and Nietzsche: Philosophy, Culture and Agency (MIT Press, 2002) in "Rethinking the Place of Philosophy with Hegel", Special Issue of Cosmos and History, vol 3, nos. 2-3 (2007): 389-395. Available online at:
  • Nikolas Kompridis, Critique and Disclosure: Critical Theory Between Past and Future (the MIT Press, 2006) in Critical Horizons: A Journal of Philosophy and Social Theory, vol. 8, issue 2 (2007): 266-271
  • Hegel on Ethics and Politics, ed. Robert B. Pippin and Otfried Hoffe, trans. Nicholas Walker (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), pp. xviii + 340. ISBN 0-521-81814-1 in Bulletin de Litterature hegelienne XVArchives de Philosophie, 2005 (
  • 'Alice Ormiston, Love and Politics. Re-Interpreting Hegel (Albany: State University of New Press, 2004), pp. ix + 164. ISBN 0-7914-6067-3" in Bulletin de Littérature hegelienne XV, Archives de Philosophie, 2005 (
  • Rosemary Cowan, Cornel West: The Politics of Redemption (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2003) in The Australian Journal of Political Science, Vol. 40, No. 1 (March 2005): 163.
  • "Endings. Questions of Memory in Hegel and Heidegger," Bulletin of the Hegel Society of Great Britain, Vol 47/48 (2003): 96-100.
  • Axel Honneth, "The Irreducibility of Progress: Kant's Account of the Relationship between Morality and History", with Jean-Philippe Deranty, Critical Horizons, 8(1), 2007, pp. 1-17.
  • Axel Honneth, 'The Work of Negativity: A Psychoanalytical Revisioning of the Theory of Recognition', trans. R. Sinnerbrink, Critical Horizons, vol. 7, no. 1, 2006, pp. 101-111.

Translations of Sinnerbrink Articles

Audiovisual and Multimedia

Current research

Robert's research interests are in the areas of aesthetics, in particular the philosophy of film, and in critical theory, contemporary French and German philosophy, romanticism, Heidegger, and social philosophy. He is currently writing a book, Cinematic Ethics, to be published by Routledge in 2015, and co-authoring a book (with Lisa Trahair and Gregory Flaxman), Understanding Cinematic Thinking: Film-Philosophy in Bresson, von Trier, and Haneke, which is to be published by Edinburgh University Press also in 2015.

Administrative responsibilities

Robert is currently on leave from administrative responsibilities while undertaking his Future Fellowship project.

Contact details

Location: Building W6A Room 724
Phone: (61 2) 9850 9935 
Fax: (61 2) 9850 8892
Officer hours: by appointment

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