Bringing together a genealogy of authors, concepts, and aesthetic case studies, this article aims to contribute to the discussion on ordinary aesthetics by focusing on the tensions that are intrinsic to walking as a fundamental embodied action in everyday urban life. These tensions concern the movement of walking itself and its relation to one’s surroundings, but it also concerns a certain complementarity between home (familiarity) and wandering. Experiencing space and thresholds that disrupt one’s relationship with home and the everyday can (...) be understood as part of a modern “anti-home” tendency that lies at the core of several artistic and aesthetic practices. On the other hand, the study of walking and its relationship with the ordinary has also been enhanced and complexified by the mediation of images and technologies of reproduction. Approaching the paradoxes and ambiguities of everydayness from the perspective of walking allows us to better understand the ordinary as an in-between concept composed of evidence and mystery, familiarity and strangeness. Walking itself, as an ordinary element of life, is an unstable stabilisation, an unconsciousness that may become awareness, an immersive action that knows interruptions, a way of repeating paths that can also lead to detours and discoveries. (shrink)
This essay distinguishes some significant commonalities and differences between the film-philosophies of Chilean filmmaker Raúl Ruiz (especially in his book Poetics of Cinema) and U.S. philosopher Stanley Cavell. I argue that despite shared senses of the poetics of the film image and certain shared philosophical references, Ruiz and Cavell differed over their conceptions of the model spectator and their relations to autonomous films and worlds from which spectators are excluded (on Cavell's picture) versus fragments out of which the spectator might (...) create their own films and worlds in which a spectator might become included (on Ruiz's picture). I then argue that a striking reconciliation between these perspectives takes place via each's conception of television, since it was precisely the features of the medium and its heteronomous parts that Cavell found bemusing from the perspective of his view of film (and its supposedly autonomous works) that allowed for Ruiz's natural career-long relationship with television and heteronomy, especially in Latin American telenovelas. I thus approach Ruiz's relation to telenovelas via Cavell's understanding of the possibilities of soap operas to explore arguments between different temporalities: "dialectical," narrative time and "undialectical" recurrences of needs and drives. I further explore this possibility with a reading of Ruiz's neglected, late-career Chilean TV series Litoral (2008), focused on the construction of stories by sailors aboard a ghost ship. I argue that the series' treatment of these different temporalities reaches its culmination in the poignant image of a sailor-storyteller stuck within a story of his own creation: a stark rendering of his taking a sideways-on view of the role of his own fantasies in its construction. (shrink)
This paper investigates a particular philosophical puzzle via an examination of its status in the writings of Wittgenstein. The puzzle concerns negation and can take on three interrelated guises. The first puzzle is how not-p can so much as negate p at all – for if p is not the case, then nothing corresponds to p. The second puzzle is how not-p can so much as negate p at all when not-p rejects p not as false but as unintelligible – (...) for if p is unintelligible, then p is nothing but scratches and sounds and does not seem apt for negation. And the third puzzle is how “not” could be anything but hopelessly equivocal if it sometimes (per the first puzzle) requires, and sometimes (per the second puzzle) precludes the intelligibility of p. The paper investigates these three puzzles, their respective structures, and their relations to each other. The second puzzle is expounded as the centre of gravity, and in countering two objections to the threefold puzzle, a special predicament is expounded with regard to the second puzzle’s concern with unipolar propositions – propositions that do not admit of an intelligible negation. The text concludes by indicating the first steps that could potentially lead us out of the threefold puzzle. (shrink)
This essay argues that, despite the potential for an encounter between Stanley Cavell’s thought and found-footage experimental filmmaking, this has not yet taken place because the early Cavell’s picture of films as autonomous “wholes,” together with his "global-holistic" conception of modernism, prevented him from appreciating the expressive possibilities of filmic fragments. I then argue that these impediments to an encounter with found footage recede in Cavell’s later thought, as he moves away from a concern with modernism and as J. L. (...) Austin’s How to Do Things with Words comes to play a greater role in his film writing. In this late period, Cavell no longer conceives of topics of film criticism as filmic “wholes” but rather, more loosely, along the lines of what Austin called “total speech situations.” I claim that the culmination of this turn lies in Cavell’s writing on the expressive powers of collections. In closing, I demonstrate the possibilities of the late Cavell’s thinking about collections and “passionate utterances” for found-footage filmmaking by discussing Mexican experimental filmmaker Bruno Varela’s Monolito (2019), with particular attention to how Varela uses archival footage to fulfill the exigencies of finding new modes of expression at just the moment when a world is receding from view. (shrink)
In this essay, I examine how Cavell's discussion of the challenges and attendant risks faced by artworks to be genuine rather than "fraudulent" informs his discussion of the challenges and attendant risks faced by art critics to offer interpretations rather than misinterpretations of artworks. Moreover, I clarify how this relation between Cavell's philosophy of art and his philosophy of criticism is mediated by his discussion of modernism. For Cavell, modernism does not so much introduce challenges for artworks as exacerbate them. (...) In doing so, modernism also exacerbates the challenges faced by art critics. In exacerbating rather than introducing these challenges, modernism has a revelatory significance for arts criticism. Namely, it reveals that the difference between imposing meaning upon an artwork ("reading into it") and illuminating an artwork ("hearing it out") is non-criterial, such that good arts criticism necessarily resembles bad, even "fraudulent" arts criticism. With this challenge in clear view, Cavell argues the art critic must accept the hermeneutical risk of imposing meaning upon a work in order to illuminate it by embracing rather than discounting or bracketing her subjectivity. Attempting to avoid this risk denies what modernism reveals about arts criticism, and accordingly, Cavell argues, it both fails and introduces new hermeneutical risks. (shrink)
Although perlocution has received more interest lately, it remains the great unthought of Austin’s theory. The privilege he gives to illocution over perlocution, rather than being a necessity of his linguistic theory, is a contestable philosophical claim that leads him, I argue, to exclude from his consideration poetic and other ‘parasitical’ uses of language. Cavell’s reconceptualisation of perlocutions as ‘passionate utterances’, however, provides a more fruitful theoretical framework to approach poetic phenomena. Reading Austin through a Cavellian lens offers keys to (...) make space for the parasitic uses Austin rejected and for poetry within a philosophy of language. (shrink)
An analysis of some work by the Oaxaca-based Mexican experimental filmmaker and video artist Bruno Varela via the latter’s reading of the late U.S. philosopher Stanley Cavell, especially Cavell’s 1982 essay “The Fact of Television.” This essay focuses on the aesthetic possibilities of the very constitution of the electronic image, based in Cavell’s understanding of television’s dependence on notions of “switching,” as opposed to “succession,” as well as how those notions play a role in Varela’s understanding of what it is (...) to critique communications media while retaining their communal potential. Audiovisual work by Varela discussed in this essay include Línea 3 (2010-11) and Materia oscura (Dark Matter, 2016). (shrink)
This essay aims to understand the relations between Stanley Cavell’s theoretical generalities regarding the medium of film and his readings of individual films, with a particular focus on his writing on color in his book The World Viewed. I argue that a specific idea of color as connected to abstraction (as well as a correlative idea of black-and-white as connected to figuration) grounds the relations between Cavell’s general statements about color and his readings of individual color films, and that this (...) conception of color helps to bring out the level of medium specificity required for understanding Cavell’s notion of “projecting” a world. I likewise argue that this idea of color and abstraction lies behind Cavell’s claims about projecting a “unified” world in his writing on color’s connection with fantasy and futurity, in his approach to Jean-Luc Godard’s films, and even in his writing on color that follows The World Viewed. (shrink)
Interpretations of the ethical significance of the Bhagavadgītā typically understand the debate between Arjuna and Kṛṣṇa in terms of a struggle between consequentialist and deontological doctrines. In this paper, I provide instead a reading of the Gītā which draws on a conception of moral thinking that can be understood to cut across those positions – that developed by Stanley Cavell, which he calls ‘Emersonian Moral Perfectionism’. In so doing, I emphasise how Kṛṣṇa’s consolation of Arjuna can centrally and fruitfully be (...) viewed as concerned with resuscitating the latter’s individuality, thereby allowing Arjuna to overcome an unthinking conformity to the current degenerate state of his society. This leads me to explore the relation between this perfectionist understanding of spiritual reorientation and the Gītā’s religious account of human redemption; and to conclude by suggesting how the text of the Gītā itself might have similar therapeutic designs upon its readers. (shrink)
In this article, I claim that Sam Mendes' Revolutionary Road is a recent version of the film genre that Stanley Cavell calls the “melodrama of the unknown woman”. Accordingly, my discussion focuses on two key elements of that identification: the film's overriding dramatic and thematic emphasis on conversation; and the central characters’ relation to the wider social and political concerns of America.
Stanley Cavell isn't the first to arrive at philosophy through a life with music. Nor is he the first whose philosophical practice bears the marks of that life. Much of Cavell's life with music is confirmed for the world in his philosophical autobiography Little Did I Know. A central moment in that book is Cavell's describing the realization that he was to leave his musical career behind – for what exactly, he did not yet know. He connects the memory-shock of (...) this leaving with "the work of mourning." How does such a life out of music inform Cavell's philosophical sensibility? The thought I follow in this essay is that Cavell's distinctive orientation in philosophy – call this his lifelong coming to terms with his abandoning a life in music – is guided in part by an interest in those moments in experience where words seem to run out, or veer toward nonsense, leaving in their wake touchstones of ecstasy. I explore this idea by summarizing my exchange with Stanley Cavell years ago when I asked him whether certain passages from his essay "Music Discomposed" are depictions of the unsayable. Cavell's response is elaborated, or qualified, by considering a pair of moments in Little Did I Know where words appear to run out. I conclude by discussing culminating thoughts on the burden borne by words and their failure that appear in Cavell's late essay on music, "Impressions of Revolution.". (shrink)
This paper presents an interpretation of the 1945 forbidden film Scarlet Street in a way so as to touch the problem of gender in film noir. Firstly, I give an account of film noir, agreeing with Robert Pippin’s argument concerning film genres. Then, I claim that time and repetition, irony and hierarchy, art and perspective constitute the core subjects explored in Scarlet Street. Furthermore, I try to connect all the subjects into a single one. My point is to show how (...) art, perspective, time, repetition, irony and hierarchy are articulated in the main character’s gender identity. Finally, I suggest there is a deep connection between the movie’s character constitution and Cavell’s understanding of gender and agency. (shrink)
Can we gain knowledge by reading literature? This essay defends an account of reading, developed by Stanley Cavell and Hans-Georg Gadamer, that phenomenologically describes the experience of acquiring self-knowledge by reading literary texts. Two possible criticisms of this account will be considered: first, that reading can provide other kinds of knowledge than self-knowledge; and, second, that the theory involves illegitimately imposing subjective meaning onto a text. It will be argued, in response, that the self-knowledge gained in reading allows one to (...) gain other sorts of knowledge too, and that the reading process described by Gadamer and Cavell avoids excessive subjectivism. (shrink)
This article examines Stanley Cavell's method of reading Emerson—and finds it wanting in rigor and fidelity to the original. Though Cavell declares himself to be among those who "care about the Emersonian text," who are "concerned to preserve the order of words of the Emersonian text," there is a substantial amount of evidence that this is not always the case. A close reading of Cavell's readings of Emerson reveals a pattern of misconstrual and misquotation whose effect is to strip away (...) the "otherness" of Emerson's words and further the project of refashioning him as a secular, skeptical, postmetaphysical thinker. (shrink)
'Becoming Who We Are' clarifies the political and existential aspects of Stanley Cavell's understanding of ordinary language and of skepticism, and shows the close connection between his reception of Kant, Heidegger, and Austin and his exploration of what Emersonian Perfectionism offers to democracy and modern life.
In the article the author describes theoretical reasons that stood behind Kołakowski's transition from being an orthodox Marxist to become an actual leader of the polish revisionist movement. His intention is to concentrate on those aspects of Kołakowski's thought that have not changed, apart from any biographical and psychological reasons. (1) First of those features is Kołakowski's inability of completability, the anti-code disposition. (2) The second trait is the moral attitude, an intention to influence on people's morality by convincing them (...) that social and internal (necessarily bound with social) changes are desirable; that an existential calm demolishes morality. (3) Third feature concerns the fact that Kołakowski did not attempt to create his own philosophy, he was rather a historian of ideas, a skeptic, and a critic. (shrink)
This book explores the idea of translation as a philosophical theme and as an important feature of philosophy and practical life, in the context of a searching examination of aspects of the work of Stanley Cavell. Furthermore it demonstrates the broader significance of these philosophical questions for education and life as a whole.
Remarkably, the theological discourse surrounding Hans Frei and postliberal theology has continued for nearly thirty years since Frei's death. This is due not only to the complex and provocative character of Frei's work, nor only to his influence upon an array of thinkers who went on to shape the theological field in their own right. It is just as indebted to the critical responses that his thinking continues to inspire. One recurrent point of criticism takes aim at Frei's use of (...) Ludwig Wittgenstein's later work for theological ends. In his recent book Liberalism versus Postliberalism: The Great Divide in Twentieth Century Theology, John Allan Knight challenges what he sees as Frei's dependence on problematic Wittgensteinian assumptions. This article raises a few concerns about Knight's charges against Frei. Specifically, I argue that Knight's account tends to conflate the work of Wittgenstein and Frei. It does this by undervaluing two determinative features of Frei's work: (1) its basic Christological orientation; and (2) its Christologically motivated use of ad hoc apologetics. I argue that the Wittgensteinian view that Knight attributes to Frei is not Frei's view at all, and is, moreover, a problematic account of Wittgenstein on its own terms. Finally, Knight's claim that Frei's work “depends upon” and “is suffused” with the understanding of Wittgenstein that Knight attributes to him is based upon an account of Frei's treatment of the sensus literalis that is not entirely accurate. Without question, Knight does remarkable service to Frei's legacy by keeping important debates over his work alive. In what follows, I propose several points where I think Knight's account might be further enriched. The result, I hope, will be a more nuanced understanding of the ways that Frei actually appropriated and deployed Wittgenstein's thought. I will contextualize my account of Frei with reference both to Wittgenstein's writings and the literature surrounding his writings. Setting forth these accounts in tandem should help make further available Wittgenstein's work for subsequent work by postliberal theologians. (shrink)
Philosophy’s Artful Conversation draws on Gilles Deleuze, Stanley Cavell, and the later writing by Ludwig Wittgenstein to defend a “philosophy of the humanities.” Both because film studies is historically a site of contention and theoretical upheaval and because Rodowick accepts Cavell’s idea that (at least in the American context) film is philosophy made ordinary, bringing philosophical questions of skepticism and perfectionism into filmgoers’ lives inescapably, it makes sense to build this vision for the humanities out of writing on film. Although (...) presented as a monograph with a single argumentative strand, the book may be more profitably read as three partly distinct works: an examination of the boundaries of theory and philosophy that doubles as a defense of a “philosophy of the humanities,” an interpretation of Deleuze’s work on film that intriguingly prioritizes What Is Philosophy?, and an interpretation of Cavell that argues that his epistemological and ontological questions are subsumed under ethics in a way that pairs well with Deleuze’s emphasis on immanence. (shrink)
This article argues that Stanley Cavell's notion of moral perfectionism must be understood, within the American cultural context, as deeply intertwined with myths of heroic American masculinity. It traces connections between Cavell's descriptions of moral perfectionism, the transcendentalist authors on whom he relies, and writings about the myth of the American frontier hero. When understood as a tradition of masculinity, it becomes possible to trace moral perfectionism across much wider areas of American cinematic culture than Cavell's reading suggests; Good Will (...) Hunting is used as an example which further illuminates the relationship between moral perfectionism and American masculinities. Psychoanalysis, a major feature of Good Will Hunting as well as an important aspect of Cavellian moral perfectionism, must also be revisited in terms of the differences in its popular mythologisation for men versus for women. (shrink)
Cary Grant reicht die Scheidung ein, Othello trachtet seiner Frau nach dem Leben, Wittgenstein fragt sich, wie er vom Schmerz der anderen wissen kann, wahrend Descartes furchtet, ganz alleine zu sein. Erkenntnistheorie und Ethik, Shakespeare und Hollywood: In allen Ecken unserer Kultur findet der amerikanische Philosoph Stanley Cavell Zeugnisse seines philosophischen Lebensthemas: dem Problem der Getrenntheit und Andersheit. Wir sind voneinander unendlich getrennt und gleichzeitig unerhort verbunden. Cavell interessiert sich aber gerade fur die Momente, in denen uns unser Menschsein unertraglich (...) wird und unsere Gemeinschaft mit anderen bedroht ist. Unsere Getrenntheit von anderen mussen wir anerkennen, sagt Cavell, aber unsere Verantwortung fur andere durfen wir deswegen nicht ignorieren. Dieses Buch stellt Cavells Philosophie als eine Ethik des Alltags und als Lebenskunst dar. Es zeigt, dass einige der drangendsten Fragen der Philosophie auch drangende Fragen des gewohnlichen Lebens sind. Wer noch nicht mit dem Werk Cavells vertraut ist, der findet hier ausserdem eine zugangliche und verstandliche Einfuhrung. Aus dem Inhalt: Sprache, Verantwortung und Skeptizismus Sprache als Lebensform * Anerkennung - unsere Beziehung zur Welt und zu anderen Skeptizismus und Popmusik Philosophie, Popmusik und lebendige Sprache * Das Herz mit Phantasien nahren - Where I End and You Begin * Bilder und Vorstellungen - Wittgensteins Parabel des kochenden Topfes Die Versuchung des Skeptizismus - Cavell und Shakespeare Konig Lear * Othello * Das Wintermarchen Die Ehe als Bund mit der Welt Mourning for a New Morning * Die Komodie der Wiederverheiratung * Ehe als Weltdeutung Verantwortung wahrnehmen Du sollst nicht toten - Cavell und Levinas * Sich dem Anderen aussetzen. (shrink)
Although short, Espen Dahl has written a book that truly delivers on its title: it clearly, concisely, and powerfully shows Cavell’s frequent and deep links to and engagements with religion and religious themes and with Continental philosophy. While both of these strands have been explored piecemeal by scholars, Dahl’s innovation consists in the detail with which he can engage these themes and the position he is able to carve out. That position is one that sees Cavell’s thought “as essentially open (...) to theology or religion more generally” . Dahl is the first—as far I know—to extensively pursue all of Cavell’s major themes in this context. This is quite an accomplishment, and something for which he ought to be commended. Dahl has also written a highly accessible book on Cavell, and yet one which in no way “waters down” or dilutes Cavell’s thinking. There ought to be more books of this kind on .. (shrink)
In this essay, I read Woolf’s To the Lighthouse together with philosopher Cora Diamond’s writing on literature and moral life, writing marked by her inheritance from Wittgenstein. I first attend to Woolf’s commitment (one she shares with Wittgenstein) to grappling with what I take to be signature issues of modernism: question, quest, and a longing for vision or revised understanding as a way of confronting the difficulty of reality. I then probe Woolf’s engagement with these issues by reading her novel (...) in light of Diamond’s essay “The Difficulty of Philosophy and the Difficulty of Reality.” Diamond’s insights about literature’s capacity for ethical instruction, and her discussion in that essay of the experience of an ordinary sublime so painful or astonishing that it resists our understanding and categories of thought, illuminate a new philosophical context in which to understand more clearly and profoundly the stakes and aims of Woolf’s novel. Reading Woolf alongside Diamond also prompts us to recognize important ways in which matters that lie at the heart of To the Lighthouseintersect with the Wittgensteinian preoccupations that inform Diamond’s own thinking—concerns about the ethics of difficulty; skepticism about what other people think and feel; the search for communicative and existential clarity; the capacity of literature and fairy tale to convey a sense of beauty or of the “terrible” in the world; the status of expressions of our ethical experience as necessarily nonsensical; a longing for the sense of wholeness, transformative understanding, wonder, safety, and peace to stave off illusion or despair. One important subsidiary effect of looking at Woolf and Diamond together is that doing so also allows us to make significant oblique connections between Woolf’s thinking and Wittgenstein’s, connections that continue to bring into focus the philosophical sympathies that attest to the mutual relevance of their peculiar brands of modernism. (shrink)
I argue that Theodor W. Adorno is best understood as a moral perfectionist thinker in the stripe of Stanley Cavell. This is signiﬁcant because Adorno’s moral philosophy has not received serious interest from moral philosophers, and much of this has to do with difﬁculties in situating his thought. I argue that once Adorno is situated in this way, then, like Cavell, he offers an interesting moral perspective that will be of value to a variety of moral theorists. My argument proceeds (...) in two broad steps: ﬁrst, I show that Cavell and Adorno share a distinct epistemological orientation, one that centers around the impossibility of knowledge in certain situations, and trades on a Kantian and post-Kantian picture. Second, I show that their moral perfectionism fundamentally rests on such epistemology. (shrink)
This paper analyses the opposing accounts of ‘the ordinary’ given by Jacques Derrida and Stanley Cavell, beginning with their competing interpretations of J. L. Austin¹s thought on ordinary language. These accounts are presented as mutually critiquing: Derrida¹s deconstructive method poses an effective challenge to Cavell¹s claim that the ordinary is irreducible by further philosophical analysis, while, conversely, Cavell¹s valorisation of the human draws attention to a residual humanity in Derrida¹s text which Derrida cannot account for. The two philosophers’ approaches are, (...) in fact, predicated on each other like the famous Gestalt-image of a vase and two faces: they cannot come into focus at the same time, but one cannot appear without the other to furnish its background. (shrink)
We invited five Cavell scholars to write on this topic. What follows is a vibrant exchange among Paola Marrati, Andrew Norris, Jörg Volbers, Cary Wolfe and Thomas Dumm addressing the question whether, in the contemporary political context, Cavell’s skepticism and his Emersonian perfectionism amount to a politics at all.
Even though both Dewey and Wittgenstein have been rightly classified as both being ‘pragmatist’ thinkers in a broad sense, they stand in stark contrast with respect to their writing style and their general attitude towards the future of western civilization. This article reflects these differences and traces them back to their diverging conceptions of knowledge. Dewey criticizes the philosophical tradition for erecting an artificial barrier between theory and practice, but he retains the traditional high esteem for knowledge by re-describing it (...) as practical inquiry. Consequently, all practically acquired beliefs and certainties are either justified or a potential subject-matter for further inquiries. Wittgenstein, on the other hand, shows the limitation of the very idea of knowledge by pointing to the knowing subject’s fragile relation to its own lived practices. He claims that there are practically acquired beliefs and certainties which are out of reach for the inquiring subject. Thus, the seemingly superficial divergence in style and method shows to be grounded in far-reaching philosophical differences. (shrink)
This article tries to bring out the implication of Cavell’s critical comments on Derrida, clustered around Cavell’s charge that deconstruction entails a flight from the ordinary. Cavell’s and Derrida’s different readings of Austin’s ordinary language philosophy provide a common ground for elaborating their respective positions. Their writings are at once the closest but also the most divergent when addressing the moral implication of speech, or more precisely, when addressing their understanding of responsibility and voice. Employing Derrida’s so-called ‘double reading’ as (...) a leitmotif will not only shed light on the moral dimension of deconstruction, but also bring the central target of Cavell’s critique into the open. (shrink)
Part of a symposium on Stanley Cavell's memoir Little Did I Know held at the Johns Hopkins Humanities Center in 2011, this brief essay connects some themes from that book to concerns about knowledge of "what we say" as treated in the opening essays of Cavell's first book, Must We Mean What We Say?; and it attempts to illuminate the latter concerns by comparing them to recent philosophical work on self-knowledge, especially Richard Moran's book Authority and Estrangement.
"William Day is . . . concerned to explore the dynamics of what Cavell calls 'a theology of reading' through a careful examination of a fragment of the philosopher's autobiography first published as 'Excerpts from Memory' (2006) and subsequently revised for Little Did I Know (2010). If, as Cavell suggests, 'the underlying subject' of both criticism and philosophy is 'the subject of examples', in which our interest lies in their emblematic aptness or richness as exemplars, exemplarity becomes central to the (...) aim of our reading. . . . Day considers how autobiography as a genre is preoccupied with the question of the author's exemplarity (Augustine or Rousseau), and in Cavell's retelling in 'Excerpts from Memory' he discusses how an event that Cavell would have us read allegorically - his move at the age of seven to a new apartment, his coming upon a familiar bowl containing nonpareils, his remark upon this to his father and his father's violent reaction - recasts a scene of paternal hatred as the child's offer of communion. Day suggests that this retelling proves to be redemptive: first, of the incident itself, and second, of the reader's own experience. Seeing how to read this autobiographical life as exemplary helps us to transfigure our own moments of deprivation into so many possibilities for freedom." --James Loxley and Andrew Taylor, introductory chapter to Stanley Cavell: Philosophy, Literature and Criticism, 15-16. (shrink)
The post-Kantians were inspired by Kant’s Critique of Judgment to forge a new synthesis of natural philosophy, art and history that would overcome the dualisms and gulfs within Kant’s philosophy. Focusing on biology and showing how Schelling reworked and transformed Kant’s insights, it is argued that Schelling was largely successful in laying the foundations for this synthesis, although he was not always consistent in building on these foundations. To appreciate this achievement, it is argued that Schelling should not be interpreted (...) as an idealist but as a process metaphysician; as he claimed, overcoming the oppositions between idealism and realism, spiritualism and materialism. It is also argued that as a process metaphysician, Schelling not merely defended an organic view of nature but developed a theory of emergence and a new conception of life relevant to current theoretical and philosophical biology. This interpretation provides a defense of process metaphysics as the logical successor to Kant’s critical philosophy and thereby as the most defensible tradition of philosophy up to the present. It provides the foundations for post-reductionist science, reconciling the sciences, the arts and the humanities, and provides the basis for a more satisfactory ethics and political philosophy. Most importantly, it overcomes the nihilism of European civilization, providing the foundations for a global ecological civilization. (shrink)
Starting from existing interpretations of Cavell’s account of moral perfectionism, this article seeks to elaborate an account of democratic responsiveness that foregrounds notions of ‘turning’ and ‘manifesting for another’. In contrast to readings of Cavell that privilege reason-giving, the article draws on the writings of Cavell as well as on Foucault’s work on parreēsia to elaborate a grammar of responsiveness that is attentive to a wider range of practices, forms of embodiment and modes of subjectivity. The article suggests that a (...) focus on the notions of ‘turning’ and ‘manifesting for another’ is crucial if we are to account for the processes through which political imagination is opened up so as to bring about novel ways of being and acting. The arguments are illustrated with reference to recent events in the Arab Spring as well as to the politics of redress in a posttransitional social movement, Khulumani. Keywords: democracy; responsiveness; Cavell; Foucault; parrēsia; frank-speaking; moral perfectionism; reason-giving; ‘turning’; ‘manifesting for another’; political imagination (Published: 23 December 2011) Citation: Ethics & Global Politics, Vol. 4, No. 4 , 2011, pp. 207-229. DOI: 10.3402/egp.v4i4.14448. (shrink)
This essay explores the nature of authenticity through a comparison of Martin Heidegger and the classical Buddhist text, the Mumonkan (The Gateless Gate). As Stanley Cavell's interpretations of Heidegger have developed, the peculiarity of Heidegger's sense of authenticity lies in the fact that it requires us, not to negate the inauthentic everydayness into which we are fallen, but to learn to inhabit this everydayness in a new way. The task of authenticity, Cavell argues, involves a recovery and a transformation of (...) this original condition. But just what this transformation involves is tricky. To what extent does authenticity involve taking particular, concrete actions in the world? And insofar as we are never in complete mastery of our actions, how can we ensure that they are authentic? Through a comparison with the Mumonkan, this essay considers how the task of authenticity can be understood as a gateless gate, a way of dwelling in the everyday which affirms our thrownness into a plurality of ways. The essay, thus, argues for different roots than those Cavell finds manifest in Heidegger's philosophy (the traditions of early American transcendentalism and Anglo-American ordinary language philosophy) and thus contributes to the current conversation on the under-appreciated convergences between Heidegger and the Buddhist tradition. (shrink)
This essay attempts to address the question, "What makes an improvised jazz solo a maturation of the possibilities of this artform?" It begins by considering the significance of one distinguishable feature of an improvised jazz solo - how it ends - in light of Joseph Kerman's seemingly parallel consideration of the historical development of how classical concertos end. After showing the limits of this comparison, the essay proposes a counter-parallel, between the jazz improviser's attitude toward the solo's end and Ludwig (...) Wittgenstein's attitude toward our (or philosophy's) arriving at the end of justifications. The parallel depends on one's granting that both the improviser and Wittgenstein are, in their distinct ways, doing battle against the recurring human fantasy of the fixity of experience. (shrink)
In various publications, Stanley Cavell and Stanley Rosen have emphasized the philosophical importance of what they both call the ordinary. They both contrast their recovery of the ordinary with traditional philosophy, including the phenomenological philosophy of Edmund Husserl. In this paper, I address Rosen’s claims in particular. I argue that Rosen turns the real situation on its head. Contra Rosen, it is not the case that the employment of Husserl’s epoché distorts the authentic voice of the ordinary—a voice that is (...) clearly audible only from within everyday life. For (pace both Cavell and Rosen) there is no single voice of the ordinary: There are many such voices, not all of which are to be relied upon. Therefore, if we want to achieve an adequate grasp of ordinary experience, and Rosen does want this, we precisely need the epoché to curtail the misleading messages of certain other voices of the ordinary. Moreover, and somewhat surprisingly, this positive evaluation of the Husserlian epoché finds support in Heidegger’s writings from the twenties. I argue that Heidegger, too, believed that the epoché was an indispensable tool for the philosophical attempt to capture ordinary experience. (shrink)
What is properly Emersonian about moral perfectionism? Perhaps the best answer is: not much. Stanley Cavell's signature concept, which claims close kinship to Emerson's ethical philosophy, seems upon careful examination to be rather far removed from it. Once we get past the broad, unproblematic appeals to Emerson's “unattained but attainable self,” and consider the specific content and implications of perfectionism, the differences between the two thinkers become too substantive – and too fraught with serious misunderstandings – to be ignored. It (...) is above all Cavell's complete disregard for the Emersonian “moral sentiment” that jeopardizes his claim to be a continuator of Emerson's legacy in ethical philosophy. I would not deny that Cavell's own work stands as an extraordinary contribution to contemporary ethics. Nor would I dispute his title as the living philosopher who has done more than any other to restore Emerson to his rightful place in the history of American philosophy, as a thinker worthy of the highest consideration. Still less would I discount the boldness and originality of Cavell's readings of Emerson. What I am contesting, rather, is the propriety of attaching the label “Emersonian” to the notion of perfectionism, especially in view of its strong anti-metaphysical bias. The Emerson canon provides ample grounds for rejecting Cavell's claim as largely unsubstantiated and in a number of crucial ways inconsistent with the moral sentiment's firm grounding of ethics in ontology. (shrink)
Der Beitrag untersucht (I) einige Merkmale des Gemeinschaftsdenkens bei Cavell, die sich aus seinen sprachphilosophischen Arbeiten begründen, aber bis in seine Überlegungen zum moralischen Perfektionismus hineinreichen. Der zweite Abschnitt (Il) bezieht Cavells Idee der Gemeinschaft auf Formen negativer, entwerkter, undarstellbarer Gemeinschaft im Anschluss an Blanchot. Der dritte Teil des Beitrages schließt (IlI) mit einer kurzen Notiz zum Problem der Zukünftigkeit der Gemeinschaft.