The Senses of Stanley Cavell
The stature of Stanley Cavell is considered unique among living American philosophers because of the expanse and power of his thought and the depth of his influence upon a newly emerging generation of thinkers. This issue of Bucknell Review celebrates the grandeur of Cavell's accomplishments; explores some of the territory that has been opened or rediscovered by his work; and gives an indication of the range of creative work in philosophy, criticism, and film study currently being done by those who have been "aroused" by Cavell's texts. James Conant, in the opening interview, asks what has drawn so many readers to Cavell's work, given the difficulty of his writing. Richard Eldridge examines several ways Cavell's work on skepticism has been misperceived and lays a foundation for understanding how the kind of reading and writing Cavell advocates possesses a genuinely restorative power both for language and for consciousness. Timothy Gould then traces Cavell's work on skepticism from his engagement with the thought of Austin, which leads in turn to Cavell's demand for active engagement on the part of his readers. Micheal Fischer argues that there are important affinities between Cavell's view of epistemological skepticism and deconstruction, while Richard P. Wheeler describes the compelling appeal of Cavell's writing about Shakespeare. Dennis Des Chene narrows focus by concentrating on Joseph Margolis's and Monroe Beardsley's responses to Cavell's "Music Discomposed." Next, William Rothman draws on Cavell's studies of Emerson and of American film in order to uncover an American tradition of thought in Hollywood films. Mary Devereaux shows that Cavell's claims for popular films as major works of thought are part of his project to recover the human voice for philosophy in an age when professional philosophy has become increasingly impersonal in its orientation. Inez Hedges studies four films that appeared after the publication of Cavell's The World Viewed (1971), demonstrating how that book may be considered "more contemporary today when it was published." Karen Hanson relates Cavell's observation that skepticism about others erodes the self to the realization that Descartes's cogito can lead to profound uncertainty about the existence of others. Arnold Davidson, in a review essay on Themes Out of School, assesses the therapeutic or redemptive effects of Cavell's writing, which he argues combines Freudian or Socratic remembering, Emersonian whim, and Wittgensteinian sensibility. In two final essays, James Conant and Richard Fleming raise fundamental questions about the present state and future possibilities of academic philosophical writing. Cavell himself addresses these questions in a second interview, which along with Peter Wasel's bibliography of works by and about Cavell, brings the volume to a conclusion.
Contributors: James Conant, Richard Eldridge, Timothy Gould, Michael Fischer, Richard P. Wheeler, Dennis Des Chene, William Rothman, Mary Devereaux, Inez hedges, Karen Hanson, Arnold Davidson, Richard Fleming, and Peter Wasel.
About the editors:
Richard Fleming is the John Howard Harris Professor of Philosophy (distinguished chair) at Bucknell University. He has taught philosophy and humanities course at Bucknell since 1983 and has received numerous teaching excellence awards. His Bucknell University Press publications include Sound and Light: La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela (edited with William Duckworth, Bucknell Review 40:1, ), and The State of Philosophy, 1993.
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