In doing so, he would leave ordinary language far behind. But the young American philosophers of mid-century questioned more than the value of poetry. The result is, as often as not, cynicism: There he observes that many of his peers seemed to have abstracted their work further and further from everyday language.
Cavell, evangelizing for ordinary language, found himself obliged to defend the technique more than its original practitioners.
It was a prodigious idea. Cavell makes skepticism fundamental, a relation to the world that comes not from the intellect but from frustrated desire. Things are different, except in a different way. Having encountered his specific readings, one returns to his more general work with awe, as if, without quite realizing it the first time around, he must have been penetrating into the essence of things.
Cavell, the former prodigy, was too well acquainted with the signs of youthful fraud to be fooled. First, an ambition he finds fundamental to the human condition: If there is a perfectionism not only compatible with democracy but necessary to it, it lies not in excusing democracy for its inevitable failures, or looking to rise above them, but in teaching how to respond to those failures … otherwise than by excuse or withdrawal.
They thus point the way, though without going far enough. During his freshman year at Berkeley, he writes in Little Did I Know, his memoir, he walked into one of his first piano courses and was asked to prove he had the requisite chops by playing a piece on the spot.
These doubts led Cavell to cut his music career short; they would follow him into his later career as a philosopher. He was also something of a musical prodigy and like many prodigies his accomplishments struck him as a matter of fraud.
He comes at familiar problems from a different starting point, and he arrives at different conclusions. His dissertation, written in the s and circulated for years before finally being revised and published as The Claim of Reasoncontains his first attempt to elaborate this insight; his later collection, In Quest of the Ordinarymay be the more cogent statement.
Ever since Descartes first asked how he could be certain the world was not the work of a demon — the famous line of inquiry that led to modern skepticism — this problem has seemed little more than an intellectual exercise.
Thus, we must dare to mean what we say, take responsibility for all the meanings our words might be taken to have—even if those meanings go beyond what we understand as our intentions—because in our unintentional though perhaps meaningful slips, and the misapprehensions, mistakes, and insights of those with whom we speak, we bring together not just words but worldviews.
But these philosophers, unlike their peers in literature, painting, and music, had no desire to take up the entire history of their discipline and recast it in singular, all-encompassing new works. Email Address Stanley Cavell, born in and now 86 years old, is one of the greatest American philosophers of the past half-century.
Emerson, Thoreau, and Wittgenstein. To return to the world in all its ambiguity, Cavell allied himself with an existing critique of the philosophy of his time.
A few weeks later Cavell ran into the same TA in the halls of the philosophy department, waging an argument about the value of poetry with a professor.
Only a little different. Mean what you say. Cavell, by insisting on the importance of perfectionism, refuses to take the consent of the relatively advantaged for granted.The essays span and connect topics in the philosophy of language, aesthetics, and a criticism of literature, drama and music.
The style and the range and integration of interests are alike individual, ambitious and arresting.
Get this from a library! Must we mean what we say? A book of essays. [Stanley Cavell]. killarney10mile.com Le Cronache Dell'accademia Shadowhunters - 2. L'herondale Scomparso ( reads). © Cambridge University Press killarney10mile.com Cambridge University Press - Must We Mean What We Say?: A Book of Essays, Updated Edition.
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I read this years ago. Cavell's methods of practicing, and commenting on, ordinary language philosophy has produced some of the deepest and most engaging writing and thought that I have encountered.5/5(2). Editions for Must We Mean What We Say?: A Book of Essays: (Paperback published in ), (Paperback published in ), (Kindle Edi.Download