The Claim of Reason: Wittgenstein, Skepticism, Morality, and Tragedy

The Claim of Reason: Wittgenstein, Skepticism, Morality, and Tragedy

This handsome new edition of Stanley Cavell's landmark text, first published 20 years ago, provides a new preface that discusses the reception and influence of his work, which occupies a unique niche between philosophy and literary studies....

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Title:The Claim of Reason: Wittgenstein, Skepticism, Morality, and Tragedy
Author:Stanley Cavell
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Edition Language:English

The Claim of Reason: Wittgenstein, Skepticism, Morality, and Tragedy Reviews

  • Lauren

    my obsession with inside/outside might be leaving me soon...

  • Tully

    A book as beautiful and wise and ethically transformative as any in american philosophy.

  • Vincent Saint-Simon

    Friends and Monsters,

    The world is too full of meaning. It is spilling uncontrollably from my sentences. And yet I feel very much like you understand what I mean.

    Please do,

    V

  • Micah Enns-Dyck

    Although this is a long and difficult book, every nugget you manage to excerpt is well worth the effort. Cavell's work uniquely follows Wittgenstein's investigative method and thus seriously challenges you to slow down, think, and most importantly, pay attention to what is shown (not told!). A truly brilliant account of finitude, knowledge, and skepticism.

  • Blakely

    A little unwieldy towards the end. But restored my faith in philosophy as something that addresses questions and concerns that I have.

  • Johnny

    I'm very enthusiastic about the way Cavell does things (though his writing does feel verbose at times). I don't have the most sophisticated understanding of /The Claim of Reason/ yet but I would characterize him as approaching basic longstanding questions (how do I know I'm not dreaming? how do I know that other people are conscious? how are moral claims justified?) through the work of writers like Wittgenstein and Shakespeare in an unusual and edifying way: rather than as intellectual puzzles

    I'm very enthusiastic about the way Cavell does things (though his writing does feel verbose at times). I don't have the most sophisticated understanding of /The Claim of Reason/ yet but I would characterize him as approaching basic longstanding questions (how do I know I'm not dreaming? how do I know that other people are conscious? how are moral claims justified?) through the work of writers like Wittgenstein and Shakespeare in an unusual and edifying way: rather than as intellectual puzzles such questions are interesting in what they expose about the nature and quality of our relationships to ourselves, others, and the world. He makes philosophical thought personal, turns my attention to MY life and the people close to me. But I shouldn't try to be too general. Each chapter (book?) is interesting, detailed, and pretty self-contained. If you like philosophy and literature and wish that they made better bedfellows, check out Cavell.

  • Modern Hermeneut

    Cavell is brilliant when it comes to synthesizing diverse strains of intellectual history. What's more, his readings of canonical works of philosophy and literature are always original and frequently dazzling. His prose style, however, is unbearably obtuse -- even for a philosopher. One lesson that he failed to pick up from Wittgenstein: "That which can be said can be said simply."

  • Szplug

    This book, this gorgeous, fresh, brand-spanking-new book, smells like a little slice of pulp heaven. It's a wild and heady perfect bound aroma that acts upon your literary libido like a platter of oysters freckled with chilies and a Dian Parkinson Playboy Special on the side...

    This book, this gorgeous, fresh, brand-spanking-new book, smells like a little slice of pulp heaven. It's a wild and heady perfect bound aroma that acts upon your literary libido like a platter of oysters freckled with chilies and a Dian Parkinson Playboyâ„¢ Special on the side...

  • jeremiah

    Here, as in all his writings, Cavell is like a philosophical DJ, cutting and scratching, spinning back, and bending the pitch of Wittgenstein, Austin, Descartes, Thompson Clarke, Shakespeare, Heidegger, et al. Stephen Mulhall has a great paper called "On Refusing to Begin" in which he wonders what The Claim of Reason is about, what kind of text it is. A tough question, to be sure, but for starters, we know it is, in part, a grand remix of the Philosophical Investigations, the Meditations,

    Here, as in all his writings, Cavell is like a philosophical DJ, cutting and scratching, spinning back, and bending the pitch of Wittgenstein, Austin, Descartes, Thompson Clarke, Shakespeare, Heidegger, et al. Stephen Mulhall has a great paper called "On Refusing to Begin" in which he wonders what The Claim of Reason is about, what kind of text it is. A tough question, to be sure, but for starters, we know it is, in part, a grand remix of the Philosophical Investigations, the Meditations, Othello, etc.

  • Nat

    In Rorty's "Cavell on Skepticism", he says the book "takes us from epistemology to romance". I'd only ever dipped into the epistemology parts (1 and 2), and never made it to the sprawling romance of part 4, until this read. The big payoff is the comparison of external world skepticism (which is the focus of parts 1 and 2) with other minds skepticism.

    While the dialectic of external world skepticism first challenges our knowledge of everyday objects by arguing that we don't meet the conditions

    In Rorty's "Cavell on Skepticism", he says the book "takes us from epistemology to romance". I'd only ever dipped into the epistemology parts (1 and 2), and never made it to the sprawling romance of part 4, until this read. The big payoff is the comparison of external world skepticism (which is the focus of parts 1 and 2) with other minds skepticism.

    While the dialectic of external world skepticism first challenges our knowledge of everyday objects by arguing that we don't meet the conditions for knowing some generic object even in a best case situation, and then dissolves in ordinary situations where we have to act (we know "for all practical purposes..."), other minds skepticism does not dissolve in ordinary situations, but is pervasive in our doubts and inability to connect with other people, and the "ideal of knowledge implied by skepticism with respect to other minds--of unlimited genuineness and effectiveness in the acknowledgement of oneself and others--haunts our ordinary days, as if it were the substance of our hopes" (p.454).

    Cavell says that "tragedy is the public form of the life of skepticism with respect to other minds" (p.493), and he uses

    , and

    to illustrate failures of knowledge and acknowledgement of other minds. This makes some sense out of the otherwise kind of weird policy that was in place when I was teaching the first year Philosophical Perspectives sequence at the U of Chicago, which involved a course on early modern philosophy (Descartes, Pascal, Locke, Hume, Montaigne) but also featured one of Shakespeare's tragedies (

    , when I was teaching it). I believe that that combination was the idea of some former Cavell students on the faculty.

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