Voice and the Interrogation of Philosophy: <i>Inheritance, Abandonment, and Jazz</i>

Vincent Colapietro

in Stanley Cavell and the Education of Grownups

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print June 2012 | ISBN: 9780823234738
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780823240753 | DOI:

Series: American Philosophy

Voice and the Interrogation of Philosophy: Inheritance, Abandonment, and Jazz

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Part III focuses on Cavell's idea of Emersonian moral perfectionism and its implications for education. In this chapter, Vincent Colapietro, writing partly from a Freudian psychoanalytical perspective, discusses the necessity of inheritance, which, in Cavell's view, already carries the “conflict of voices and generations” and the simultaneous necessity of improvisation represented by jazz. We are trained to dissociate our philosophical voices from their uniquely autobiographical inflections. Initiation into philosophical discourse demands, at the very least, working hard to erase merely idiosyncratic inflections. But the literary achievement of Cavell invites reflection upon the personal and even intimate narratives of a philosopher's life (including autobiographical accounts) as valuable sources of philosophical illumination. Such reflection enables us to appreciate that identity, persona, and voice are, in particular, bound up in our names and acts of naming, just as they are in youthful but also subsequent experience. It also assists us in probing the deeper meaning of the most commonplace terms, not least of all such terms as “home,” “inheritance,” and “exile.” Colapietro lays emphasis on the work of mourning and recollection, with the voice of the child coming to be recognized as a forgotten voice from the past.

Keywords: Emersonian moral perfectionism; Psychoanalysis; Jazz; Inheritance; Autobiography; Home; Exile; the work of mourning; the voice of the child

Chapter.  9382 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy

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