Stanley Cavell’s Argument of the Ordinary

Nordic Wittgenstein Review 7 (2):9-48 (2018)

Avner Baz
Tufts University
My overall aim is to show that there is a serious and compelling argument in Stanley Cavell’s work for why any philosophical theorizing that fails to recognize what Cavell refers to as “our common world of background” as a condition for the sense of anything we say or do, and to acknowledge its own dependence on that background and the vulnerability implied by that dependence, runs the risk of rendering itself, thereby, ultimately unintelligible. I begin with a characterization of Cavell’s unique way of inheriting Austin and Wittgenstein – I call it “ordinary language philosophy existentialism” – as it relates to what Cavell calls “skepticism”. I then turn to Cavell’s response to Kripke in “The Argument of the Ordinary”, which is different from all other responses to Kripke’s _Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language_ in that Cavell’s response, while _theoretically_ powerful, is at the same time also _existentialist_, in the sense that Cavell finds a way of _acknowledging in his writing_ the fundamental fact that his writing constitutes an _instance _of what he is writing about. This unique achievement of Cavell’s response to Kripke is not _additional _to his argument, but _essential_ to it: it enables him not merely to say, but to _show _that, and how, Kripke’s account falsifies what it purports to elucidate, and thereby to show that the theoretical question of linguistic sense is not truly separable, not even theoretically, from the broadly ethical question of how we relate to others, and how we conduct ourselves in relation to them from one moment to the next.
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DOI 10.15845/nwr.v7i2.3521
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References found in this work BETA

Knowledge and Lotteries.John Hawthorne - 2003 - Oxford University Press.
New Work for a Theory of Universals.David Lewis - 1983 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 61 (4):343-377.
Knowledge and Lotteries.John Hawthorne - 2004 - Studia Logica 84 (1):161-163.
Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language.Saul Kripke - 1982 - Philosophy of Science 51 (1):163-171.
Mind, Value and Reality.John Mcdowell - 1998 - Mind 109 (435):533-557.

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Filosofisk vertigo.Richard Sørli - 2019 - Norsk Filosofisk Tidsskrift 54 (4):203-219.

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Contending with Stanley Cavell.Stanley Cavell & Russell B. Goodman (eds.) - 2005 - Oxford University Press.
‘The Ordinary’ in Stanley Cavell and Jacques Derrida.Judith Wolfe - 2013 - Minerva - An Internet Journal of Philosophy 17 (1).
On Bruns, on Cavell.James Conant - 1991 - Critical Inquiry 17 (3):616-634.


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