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Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
March 2022
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Book description

In 1969 Stanley Cavell's Must We Mean What We Say? revolutionized philosophy of ordinary language, aesthetics, ethics, tragedy, literature, music, art criticism, and modernism. This volume of new essays offers a multi-faceted exploration of Cavell's first and most important book, fifty years after its publication. The key subjects which animate Cavell's book are explored in detail: ordinary language, aesthetics, modernism, skepticism, forms of life, philosophy and literature, tragedy and the self, the questions of voice and audience, jazz and sound, Wittgenstein, Austin, Beckett, Kierkegaard, Shakespeare. The essays make Cavell's complex style and sometimes difficult thought accessible to a new generation of students and scholars. They offer a way into Cavell's unique philosophical voice, conveying its seminal importance as an intellectual intervention in American thought and culture, and showing how its philosophical radicality remains of lasting significance for contemporary philosophy, American philosophy, literary studies, and cultural studies.

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