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This New Yet Unapproachable America

Lectures after Emerson after Wittgenstein

Stanley Cavell is a titan of the academic world; his work in aesthetics and philosophy has shaped both fields in the United States over the past forty years. In this brief yet enlightening collection of lectures, Cavell investigates the work of two of his most tried-and-true subjects: Emerson and Wittgenstein. Beginning with an introductory essay that places his own work in a philosophical and historical context, Cavell guides his reader through his thought process when composing and editing his lectures while making larger claims about the influence of institutions on philosophers, and the idea of progress within the discipline of philosophy. In “Declining Decline,” Cavell explains how language modifies human existence, looking specifically at the culture of Wittgenstein’s writings. He draws on Emerson, Thoreau, and many others to make his case that Wittgenstein can indeed be viewed as a “philosopher of culture.” In his final lecture, “Finding as Founding,” Cavell writes in response to Emerson’s “Experience,” and explores the tension between the philosopher and language—that he or she must embrace language as his or her “form of life,” while at the same time surpassing its restrictions. He compares finding new ideas to discovering a previously unknown land in an essay that unabashedly celebrates the power and joy of philosophical thought.   


144 pages | 5-1/4 x 8 | © 1989, 2013

Carpenter Lectures

Language and Linguistics: Philosophy of Language

Philosophy: American Philosophy

Reviews

“Stanley Cavell is a major player in the ongoing revival of American pragmatism and in the overall attempt to bridge the gap between Anglo-American and Continental philosophy as well as the gap between literature and philosophy.”

Greig Henderson | The University of Toronto Quarterly

“[In] This New Yet Unapproachable America, the namings of style and history and philosophic tutelage happen all at once. . . . We will find ourselves indebted to this knot of time, discipline, and text.”

Stephen Melville | American Literary History

“This is a voice like no other in philosophy, today or ever.”

Arthur C. Danto | October

“By turns plangent and nostalgic, ecstatic and humorous, Stanley Cavell’s style is the most distinctive in contemporary American philosophy. More than mere ornament, it conveys a message that for him philosophy is not only a profession; it is a calling, a way of life.”

Charles Dove | Modern Language Notes

Table of Contents

Work in Progress: An Introductory Report
I. Declining Decline
II. Finding as Founding
Acknowledgments
Works Cited

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