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Stanley Cavell and Two Pictures of the Voice

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In the way we traffic with words we might distinguish between deliberate conceptual performances—knowing more or less what we want to say and finding the right words for it—and others in which the conscious mind is more receptive. If a philosophical text is a deliberate compilation of words, then what is the philosopher to make of this second, non-deliberate sort of conceptual performance? Each “picture of the voice” is elaborated, the first in the work of Schopenhauer, the second in Nietzsche. A similar distinction is explored in the theoretical work of the poet Seamus Heaney. This leads to consideration of how two of Stanley Cavell's more important mentors, Wittgenstein and Emerson, have responded to Shakespeare. Their differing appraisals, I hope to show, depend upon their affinities with one of these two pictures. My conclusion briefly suggests how this contrast illuminates the work of Stanley Cavell.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Catholic University of Leuven, The Institute of Philosophy, Centre for Metaphysics and Modern Philosophy, B-3000 Leuven, Belgium

Publication date: 2009-08-01

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