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Stanley Cavell and the Education of Grownups

Stanley Cavell and the Education of Grownups

Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: Fordham University Press
Pages: 280
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  • Book Info
    Stanley Cavell and the Education of Grownups
    Book Description:

    What could it mean to speak of philosophy as the education of grownups? This book takes Stanley Cavell's much-quoted, yet enigmatic phrase as the provocation for a series of explorations into themes of education that run throughout his work - through his response to Wittgenstein, Austin and ordinary language philosophy, through his readings of Thoreau and of the moral perfectionism he identifies with Emerson, through his discussions of literature and film. Hilary Putnam has described Cavell not only as one of the most creative thinkers of today but as amongst the few contemporary philosophers to explore the territory of philosophy as education. Yet in mainstream philosophy his work is apt to be referred to rather than engaged with, and the full import of his writings for education is still to be appreciated. Cavell engages in a sustained exploration of the nature of philosophy, and this is not separable from his preoccupation with what it is to teach and to learn, with the kinds of transformation these might imply, and with the significance of these things for our language and politics, for our lives as a whole.In recent years Cavell's work has been the subject of a number of books of essays, but this is the first to address directly the importance of education in his work. Such matters cannot fail to be of significance not only for the disciplinary fields of philosophy and education, but in politics, literature, and film studies - and in the humanities as a whole. A substantial introduction provides an overview of the philosophical purchase of questions of education in his work, while the essays are framed by two new pieces by Cavell himself. The book shows what it means to read Cavell, and simultaneously what it means to read philosophically, in itself a part of our education as grownups.

    eISBN: 978-0-8232-5366-1
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
    (pp. 1-18)
    Paul Standish and Naoko Saito

    Our lives require of us change. How are we changed? And how far is this change education? We learn far more than we are taught, and we learn inevitably, in spite of ourselves. Yet sometimes we fail to learnbecauseof ourselves. We can seek out our education, and education can be thrust upon us. We can accumulate knowledge, skills, and aptitudes, and we can chart our own path of development and progress (though others more likely will do this for us), but we can also be transformed, in ways that we cannot anticipate. The societies in which we find...

  4. Part I: Entries in the Education of Grownups

      (pp. 37-54)
      Hilary Putnam

      My favorite definition of philosophy is Stanley Cavell’s: “education for grownups.”¹ In this essay, I shall discuss an issue that is obviously a philosophical one and, at the same time, one on which many who certainly consider themselves “grownups,” including many philosophers, economists, lawyers, and policymakers of all kinds, unquestionablyneed“education.” That is the issue that I described in a recent book as “the fact/value dichotomy.”²

      The book I just mentioned begins thus:

      Every one of you has heard someone ask, “Is that supposed to be a fact or a value judgment? The presupposition of this “stumper” is that...

    • THREE ENCOUNTERING CAVELL: The Education of a Grownup
      (pp. 55-70)
      Russell B. Goodman

      I first heard the name of Stanley Cavell in Oxford, where I was studying philosophy, politics, and economics after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania. At Penn I had taken all the philosophy I could, Greek and Chinese, philosophy of science and philosophy of the social sciences, logical positivism and pragmatism, and had been disappointed only by a course in aesthetics, the main object of which seemed to be to show that R. G. Collingwood’sThe Principles of Artwas mistaken in every respect. Where was the beauty of it all, I thought? And was I wrong to wish for...

  5. Part II: Skepticism and Language

      (pp. 73-87)
      Paul Standish

      Questions concerning the ownership of learning have been prominent for a number of years. Sometimes they relate to the control of the curriculum, sometimes to matters of choice, and sometimes to more psychological dimensions of learning and enquiry. They emerge in various contexts and take different forms. Consider the following examples.

      (a) Concern with the ownership of control over what is learned is to the fore in various aspects of adult education—especially where this is inspired by the emancipatory pedagogy of Paulo Freire or by Malcolm Knowles’s concept of andragogy.

      (b) These types of learner-centeredness have their counterparts, and...

    • FIVE SENSUAL SCHOOLING: On the Aesthetic Education of Grownups
      (pp. 88-120)
      Gordon C. F. Bearn

      Let’s start with a problem that higher education has been fumbling with for some time. Here is Whitehead at the end of his 1925 Lowell Lectures, speaking on the Victorian topic of “Requisites for Social Progress”:

      the rate of progress is [now] such that an individual human being, of ordinary length of life, will be called upon to face novel situations which find no parallel in his past. The fixed person for the fixed duties, who in older societies was such a godsend, in the future will be a public danger.¹

      This is hardly news, but still, the dramatic rhetoric...

  6. Part III: Moral Perfectionism and Education

    • SIX VOICE AND THE INTERROGATION OF PHILOSOPHY: Inheritance, Abandonment, and Jazz
      (pp. 123-147)
      Vincent Colapietro

      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 an author such as Stanley Cavell—his philosophical accomplishment being inseparable from his literary practice—invites reflection upon the personal and even intimate narratives of a philosopher’s lives (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...

      (pp. 148-169)
      René V. Arcilla

      Like many professional school administrators, I have had to participate in my share of curricular debates about what constitutes the right balance between collegiate courses in the major and in the liberal arts. In my experience, such debates are not entirely reducible to clashes of material interests; they express reasonable differences of opinion concerning the respective values of these courses, values that must be responsibly reckoned next to soaring tuition costs. For the educator in a profession, the value of what he or she teaches depends instrumentally on the acquisition and mastery of a rewarding position. For the liberal educator,...

    • EIGHT THE GLEAM OF LIGHT: Initiation, Prophesy, and Emersonian Moral Perfectionism
      (pp. 170-187)
      Naoko Saito

      If these remarks of Stanley Cavell on Thoreau’sWaldenimply a questioning of the general culture of “reading,” this must be all the more urgent in an age of globalization. What does it mean to read in philosophy, and what does this say about education? What can philosophy say about education? Certainly, the imperative that is sometimes imposed on philosophers of education to say something concrete about policy and practice has on occasion encouraged the assumption that theory is to be “applied,” resulting in work that can disappoint through appearing contrived or forced or even vacuous and that ultimately, even...

    • NINE THE ORDINARY AS SUBLIME IN CAVELL, ZEN, AND NISHIDA: Cavell’s Philosophy of Education in East-West Perspective
      (pp. 188-204)
      Steve Odin

      In this chapter, I elucidate “the ordinary” as the fundamental category in the Emersonian perfectionism underlying Stanley Cavell’s philosophy of education in contemporary American philosophy and relate it to Zen/Chan Buddhism and Confucianism. Here I develop Cavell’s notion of philosophy as “education for grownups” as an ongoing process of self-overcoming that moves from the actual ordinary to the next or transfigured ordinary, itself visualized through his Emersonian perfectionist image of ever-expanding circles. Moreover, I discuss how Cavell’s Emersonian perfectionism as a transformative educational process is an ongoing task aimed at recovering the ordinary in response to the constant threat of...

  7. Coda

      (pp. 207-214)
      Stanley Cavell

      It is gratifying to me that the idea of conceiving philosophy as “the education of grownups” has recently been focused upon by readers ofThe Claim of Reasonand has found some favor with them. And, of course, it is further gratifying to me that the point of the formulation seems quite well understood, namely as a sort of response that has in mind Wittgenstein’s saying that “philosophical problems . . . are, of course, not empirical problems. . . . The problems are solved, not by giving new information, but by arranging [durch Zusammenstellung: by putting together] what we...

  8. Notes
    (pp. 215-242)
  9. Bibliography
    (pp. 243-252)
  10. List of Contributors
    (pp. 253-256)
  11. Index
    (pp. 257-262)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 263-264)