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Cavell, Stanley


Subject Literature

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631207535.1997.x


(1926-) Philosopher, born in Atlanta, Georgia, professor of A esthetics and the general theory of value at Harvard University. His extensive writing is greatly influenced by his teacher J.L. A ustin and by the twentieth-century philosopher Ludwig W ittgenstein . Hearing Austin give the William James lectures at Harvard in 1955 (later published in 1962 as How To Do Things With Words ) caused Cavell to stop work on his dissertation and to choose a different path of research and topic for study. (That decision would delay the completion of his dissertation, The Claim to Rationality , until 1961.) His reading of Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations revealed a philosophy that was novel in its manner of W riting and grounded in a K antian and transcendental spirit of inquiry, both of which gave Cavell's work a form and direction it was never to lose. Cavell was one of the earliest to note the Kantian spirit in Wittgenstein's work – see his essays “Must we mean what we say” and “The availability of Wittgenstein's later philosophy” – and to give Austin serious hearing in philosophical contexts; see his “Austin at criticism” (Cavell, 1969). His writings also include published texts on Shakespeare's plays and skepticism ( Disowning Knowledge , 1987), on film study and the kind of object film presents to aesthetic inquiry ( The World Viewed , 1979), and on Thoreau and Emerson ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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