This reissue of an American philosophical classic includes a new preface by Cavell, in which he discusses the work's reception and influence. The work fosters a fascinating relationship between philosophy and literature both by augmenting his philosophical discussions with examples from literature and by applying philosophical theories to literary texts. Cavell also succeeds in drawing some very important parallels between the British analytic tradition and the continental tradition, by comparing skepticism as understood in Descartes, Hume, and Kant with philosophy of (...) language as practiced by Wittgenstein and Austin. (shrink)
In these three lectures, Cavell situates Emerson at an intersection of three crossroads: a place where both philosophy and literature pass; where the two traditions of English and German philosophy shun one another; where the cultures of America and Europe unsettle one another.
Something out of the ordinary -- The interminable Shakespearean text -- Fred Astaire asserts the right to praise -- Henry James returns to America and to Shakespeare -- Philosophy the day after tomorrow -- What is the scandal of skepticism? -- Performative and passionate utterance -- The Wittgensteinian event -- Thoreau thinks of ponds, Heidegger of rivers -- The world as things.
_Philosophy and Animal Life_ offers a new way of thinking about animal rights, our obligation to animals, and the nature of philosophy itself. Cora Diamond begins with "The Difficulty of Reality and the Difficulty of Philosophy," in which she accuses analytical philosophy of evading, or deflecting, the responsibility of human beings toward nonhuman animals. Diamond then explores the animal question as it is bound up with the more general problem of philosophical skepticism. Focusing specifically on J. M. Coetzee's _The Lives (...) of Animals_, she considers the failure of language to capture the vulnerability of humans and animals. Stanley Cavell responds to Diamond's argument with his own close reading of Coetzee's work, connecting the human-animal relation to further themes of morality and philosophy. John McDowell follows with a critique of both Diamond and Cavell, and Ian Hacking explains why Cora Diamond's essay is so deeply perturbing and, paradoxically for a philosopher, he favors poetry over philosophy as a way of overcoming some of her difficulties. Cary Wolfe's introduction situates these arguments within the broader context of contemporary continental philosophy and theory, particularly Jacques Derrida's work on deconstruction and the question of the animal. _Philosophy and Animal Life_ is a crucial collection for those interested in animal rights, ethics, and the development of philosophical inquiry. It also offers a unique exploration of the role of ethics in Coetzee's fiction. (shrink)
These lectures by one of the most influential and original philosophers of the twentieth century constitute a sustained argument for the philosophical basis of romanticism, particularly in its American rendering. Through his examination of such authors as Emerson, Thoreau, Poe, Wordsworth, and Coleridge, Stanley Cavell shows that romanticism and American transcendentalism represent a serious philosophical response to the challenge of skepticism that underlies the writings of Wittgenstein and Austin on ordinary language.
The two essays in this book, first published in 1989, were delivered as two of the 1987 Carpenter Lectures at the University of Chicago. Wittgenstein and Emerson are major influences on and subjects of Cavell's thought, and here he thinks and rethinks of these two intellectual forebears. As the title shows, he finds an important crux for contemplation in Emerson's idea of America.
This book is Stanley Cavell’s definitive expression on Emerson. Over the past thirty years, Cavell has demonstrated that he is the most emphatic and provocative philosophical critic of Emerson that America has yet known. The sustained effort of that labor is drawn together here for the first time into a single volume, which also contains two previously unpublished essays and an introduction by Cavell that reflects on this book and the history of its emergence. -/- Students and scholars working in (...) philosophy, literature, American studies, history, film studies, and political theory can now more easily access Cavell’s luminous and enduring work on Emerson. Such engagement should be further complemented by extensive indices and annotations. If we are still in doubt whether America has expressed itself philosophically, there is perhaps no better space for inquiry than reading Cavell reading Emerson. (shrink)
Having acknowledged the recurrent theme of education in Stanley Cavell's work, the discussion addresses the topic of scepticism, especially as this emerges in the interpretation of Wittgenstein. Questions concerning rule‐following, language and society are then turned towards political philosophy, specifically with regard to John Rawls. The discussion examines the idea of the social contract, the nature of moral reasoning and the possibility of our lives' being above reproach, as well as Rawls's criticisms of Nietzschean perfectionism. This lays the way for (...) the broaching of questions of race and America. The theme of the ordinary, which emerges variously in Cavell's reflections on Emerson, Wittgenstein and Austin, is taken up and extended into a consideration of Thoreau's ‘experiment in living’. The conversation closes with brief remarks about happiness. (shrink)
Reissued with a new preface, this famous collection of essays covers a remarkably wide range of philosophical issues, including essays on Wittgenstein, Austin, Kierkegaard, and the philosophy of language, and extending beyond philosophy into discussions of music and drama. Previous edition hb ISBN (1976): 0-521-21116-6 Previous edition pb ISBN (1976): 0-521-29048-1.
Granted a certain depth of accuracy in citing an aspect of Spengler as an enactment of an aspect of Wittgenstein's thought, Wittgenstein's difference from Spengler should have depth. One difference can be characterized by saying that in the Investigations Wittgenstein diurnalizes Spengler's vision of the destiny toward exhausted forms, toward nomadism, toward loss of culture, or of home, or community: he depicts our everyday encounters with philosophy, with our ideals, as brushes with skepticism, wherein the ancient task of philosophy, to (...) awaken us, or bring us to our senses, takes the form of returning us to the everyday, the ordinary, every day, diurnally. (shrink)
In the first essay of this book, Stanley Cavell characterizes philosophy as a "willingness to think not about something other than what ordinary human beings think about, but rather to learn to think undistractedly about things that ordinary human beings cannot help thinking about, or anyway cannot help having occur to them, sometimes in fantasy, sometimes as a flash across a landscape." Fantasies of film and television and literature, flashes across the landscape of literary theory, philosophical discourse, and French historiography (...) give Cavell his starting points in these twelve essays. Here is philosophy in and out of "school," understood as a discipline in itself or thought through the works of Shakespeare, Molière, Kierkegaard, Thoreau, Brecht, Makavejev, Bergman, Hitchcock, Astaire, and Keaton. (shrink)
Stanley Cavell has been a brilliant, idiosyncratic, and controversial presence in American philosophy, literary criticism, and cultural studies for years. Even as he continues to produce new writing of a high standard -- an example of which is included in this collection -- his work has elicited responses from a new generation of writers in Europe and America. This collection showcases this new work, while illustrating the variety of Cavell's interests: in the "ordinary language" philosophy of Wittgenstein and Austin, in (...) film criticism and theory, in literature, psychoanalysis, and the American transcendentalism of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. The collection also reprints Richard Rorty's early review of Cavell's magnum opus, The Claim of Reason (1979), and it concludes with Cavell's substantial set of responses to the essays, a highlight of which is his engagement with Rorty. (shrink)
Writing in continuous gratitude to Gary Matthews's wonderful project of rescuing childhood from its disregard, not to say banishment, in professional philosophy, I relate here certain moments in his considerations of early childhood to moments in Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations, which opens with a scene of childhood from Augustine's Confessions, and also to moments in later stages of childhood (as Matthews also significantly indicates) and, beyond that, to adolescent crises and to what I have called philosophy as "the education of grown-ups." (...) I raise the issue of whether we are to see the "odd" questions of early childhood as proto-science, which will eventually graduate into better science, or as proto-philosophy, which will be continuously elaborated in philosophical investigation. This raises the question of whether philosophy is to be regarded, early or late, as inseparable from science or, as the later Wittgenstein urges, autonomous with respect to science's glamorous advances. (shrink)
Stanley Cavell reflects on the writing of Barbara Cassin in light of his interest in interpreting certain philosophers as "philosophically destructive," where this destructiveness may in fact be understood as philosophically creative. Cavell suggests that the writings of Austin and Wittgenstein may be considered in these terms, and speculates on the potential interest these writers might have for Cassin. Cassin's call for a rethinking of philosophy might be seen as uniquely essential to the practice of Austin and Wittgenstein.
My letter of invitation to this seminar expresses the thought that “it will be very useful to have someone from outside the field help us see ourselves.” Given my interests in what you might call the fact of literary study, I was naturally attracted by the invitation to look at literary study as a discipline or profession but also suspicious of the invitation. I thought: Do professionals really want to be helped to see themselves by outsiders? This is an invitation (...) to get a group of people sore at me, and it will only result in the group’s having an occasion not to see itself, since any member of it can easily dismiss anything I say as uninformed. But the invitation goes on to give the title for this session as “The Nature and Function of Literary Study: As Others See Us.” Reading that, I thought: That is different. That identifies me as an other to the “academic and professional concerns” of the field—hence, not just outside but intimately outside, as if my position were an alternative to yours. And how could I not be better informed about being other to you than you are?But of course I know that there is no single unified “you” to which I am other, that some of you, perhaps most, have other others than philosophy and see your practice not against philosophy but against history or criticism or literary theory. So I should perhaps say that I am not exactly single or unified myself, that I am also other to the Anglo-American profession of philosophy, to which at the same time I belong. A way of expressing my otherness to this profession of philosophy is simply to say that I take you as also among my others, that I recognize the study of literature to be an alternative to what I do—a path I might have taken, might still irregularly be taking—to occupy a relation to the way I think, that for most of the members of my profession would be occupied by a profession of logic or science. I will not try here to account theoretically for the intimate differences that may make philosophy and literature alternative studies, which means that I will not here systematically try taking the perspective of an other. But I will be bearing in mind its certain messages and rumors that have lately been coming my way from the field of literary studies. You have, for example, not kept it secret that you have been worrying, as a profession, and sometimes in the form of conducting arguments about the obligation to literary theory as part of literary study, nor secret that these arguments sometimes take on the color or texture of strong statements of, or against, something called deconstruction. I will try to say something about these poorly kept secrets. Stanley Cavell, professor of philosophy at Harvard University, is the author of many works, including Must We Mean What We Say?, The Senses of “Walden,” The Claim of Reason, and, most recently, Themes Out of School. He has been chosen by the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters to receive the 1985 Morton Dauwen Zabel Award for Criticism. His most recent contribution to Critical Inquiry, “Politics as Opposed to What?,” appears in the September 1982 issue. (shrink)