Chapter

Silences Noises Voices

Stanley Cavell

in Future Pasts

Published in print September 2001 | ISBN: 9780195139167
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199833214 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/019513916X.003.0017
 Silences Noises Voices

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In these reflections Cavell touches on three themes not previously developed in his writings. First, two ideas of silence beyond the voices in Wittgenstein’s Investigations: the idea that philosophy maintains silence, because its virtue is responsiveness to the words of others rather than the provision of theses, and the idea of the silence in which philosophical problems end. Cavell links the second to the idea of the deaths of philosophical attempts to escape the ordinary that one finds in the Investigations, thereby reading Wittgenstein as discovering philosophy as learning how to die. Second, Cavell situates his inheritance of Wittgenstein, Emerson, and Thoreau in an insistence in not forcing an overcoming of the split within philosophy itself, a split he epitomizes in two myths of philosophical reading: philosophy as requiring reading everything (Heidegger) and as requiring reading nothing (Wittgenstein). Finally, Cavell ruminates on the charges of indecorous self-indulgence brought against his writings. He locates this as a reaction to his willingness to recognize, even to cultivate, the unconscious in his philosophical writing, and to acknowledge psychoanalysis as posing an intellectual competitor to the aspirations of philosophy.

Keywords: Wittgenstein; Emerson; Thoreau; Freud; Lacan; voice; silence; the ordinary; reading; death; psychoanalysis; unconscious

Chapter.  4906 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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