Chapter

Criteria, Scepticism, and the External World

Stephen Mulhall

in Stanley Cavell

Published in print January 1999 | ISBN: 9780198238508
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191679643 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198238508.003.0006
Criteria, Scepticism, and the External World

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This chapter investigates the vertical rather than the horizontal axis of the space opened up by criteria, to explore the sense in which they align a speaker with the world rather than with other speakers. It focuses on the material published as the first two parts of The Claim of Reason. Cavell takes Wittgenstein to have developed his notion of a criterion in response to the threat of scepticism — the worry that we cannot be certain of the existence of the world or of other mind-endowed creatures (other people) in it. Although Cavell does not take the notion to constitute a refutation of scepticism, its significance and function is best understood by relating it to this particular philosophical problematic; and the attempt to elucidate his understanding of criteria will proceed by examining his analysis of external-world scepticism.

Keywords: Cavell; scepticism; space; The Claim of Reason; external world

Chapter.  14490 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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