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Cavell, Stanley (1926–)

RICHARDFLEMING


Subject Literature

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405168908.2010.x


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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 ant ian 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 and ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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