Title

Cavell And The American Jeremiad

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2014

Published In

Journal Of Philosophical Research

Abstract

Building on remarks by Dewey, Brandom, and Wittgenstein among others, this paper characterizes and defends a general style of philosophy as elucidatory analysis of concepts in circulation within a culture. The presence of this general style is then traced briefly in Quine and Beardsley. I then raise the question whether there is anything distinctively American about this general style. Drawing on work by Sacvan Bercovitch, I argue that use of this style is motivated by America’s distinctive religious history and that this style is present in the writings of Emerson and Thoreau in a marked way. Finally I turn to an analysis of the work of Stanley Cavell, the most self-conscious contemporary inheritor of this religious history, stylistically and substantively, and I point to connections between the style and the substance of this inheritance.

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