Who is Stanley Cavell?
Stanley Louis Cavell, (born September 1, 1926), is an American writer and philosopher. Since 1997 he has been professor emeritus of aesthetics and general theory of value (which he has taught since 1963) at Harvard University.
It was around the beginning of the 1960s that S.L Cavell studied with J.L Austin at Harvard and that a whole new way of philosophizing, in touch with ordinary language, allowed Stanley Cavell to find his way (voice)
He made a name for himself in philosophy at the end of the 1960s around the defense of Austin and his teaching on the philosophical investigations of Wittgenstein, of whom he is currently one of the most original and sober readers. Stanley Cavell is thus situated in a linguistic and analytical turn typical of a positivist heritage in America, in the thread notably of the immigration of thinkers from the Vienna circles, an era that was also important from the point of view of the constitution of the philosophical discipline and its teaching body within the American university. But he criticizes the different forms of this heritage: the removal of the figure of the intellectual, the professionalization of philosophy, the rupture and cultural isolation. Stanley Cavell never abandoned a dialogue with continental philosophy, from his reading of the German (Schlegel, Goethe) and English (Coleridge, Wordsworth) Romantics to the most contemporary French authors such as Lacan, Derrida, Maurice Blanchot.
Stanley Cavell is one of the rare current philosophical authors able to be as creative in these two dimensions (analytical philosophy and continental philosophy) and thus able to heal the current tear of philosophy. This is not without a position that makes him somewhat eccentric and risks being misunderstood on both sides: from his first essays, Stanley Cavell, affirms a new tone in philosophy, a modernist tone, which contrasts with the type of argumentation in which he sees the exercise of philosophy in America being locked up. Philosophy is defined, according to him, first of all as the production of texts.
The Claim Of Reason
He wrote a thesis (the claim of rationality) that he would recast and extend in the 1970s in a major work: the claim of reason – Wittgenstein, Skepticism, Morality, and Tragedy.
He was thus going to discuss with a whole critical current in the United States. But he did not embrace what was to become known as French Theory in America, in which he recognized an imported form. Stanley Cavell prefers to value a properly American form of philosophy, even if it means defending himself against this repression of America, sometimes against his own culture, which it is therefore up to him to remove. Philosophy as literature is at the center of a thought whose themes of course are multiple. Stanley Cavell delivers himself to a research program open to congruences that astonish the mind at the mercy of an inventive writing that abandons itself to all “happy encounters”. In Stanley Cavell’s work, for example, the cinema (emblem of this American popular culture that he intends to put back in value) meets Emerson’s thought, the study of a classical problem of the traditional philosophy as the gnoseological and moral skepticism meets the Shakespearean romantic comedy. These congruences of the intellectual field draw within philosophy lines of reading as unexpected as they are fruitful.
One of these lines, Stanley Cavell, calls it perfectionism to which this site is dedicated. Discovered for America, this moral and political dimension could well know, from the progressive translation of Cavell’s works (particularly in France), a European destiny; a destiny, in return, which is perhaps not inscribed elsewhere than in the essence or the thought of America.