NDPR Review: “Stanley Cavell and the Education of Grownups” (Saito and Standish, eds.)

NDPR has just published a review — written by Stanley Bates (Middlebury College) — of the recently published essay collection Stanley Cavell and the Education of Grownups (Fordham University Press), edited by Naoko Saito and Paul Standish.

To access the whole review online, please click here.

Here is how it begins:

Stanley Cavell’s influence on a variety of contemporary fields continues to grow. It has been marked, in the past decade or so, by a number of distinguished anthologies in a wide range of disciplines including politics and literature. It is heartening for those of us who think that this influence is overwhelmingly (though, perhaps, not universally) positive to have witnessed the continuing (re)discovery of his work, and its significance for American Studies, Film Studies, Shakespeare studies and, of course, for what should be its home country, philosophy. (Whether academic philosophy as presently constituted in American and British universities is home country for Cavell is a continuing topic in much of this literature and in much of Cavell’s own writing.)

The relevance of Cavell’s thought to reflection on education should be obvious, since it is implicit in all of his writing including his interpretations of the opening of Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations, and his discussion of, e.g., the “scene of instruction.” Moreover the title of the work under review is drawn from Cavell’s explicit characterization of philosophy as the education of grownups in the concluding paragraphs of Part I of The Claim of Reason. Perhaps the lack of interest in thinking of Cavell on this topic is related to the negligible place of philosophy of education in most departments of philosophy. Philosophy of education has been primarily pursued in departments, programs, and schools of education, and in those places it also has a somewhat tenuous position. Academic programs in education tend to be primarily concerned with issues about schooling, and the preparation of teachers who will operate in schools. Though schooling is almost always an important part of someone’s education (sometimes negatively) Cavell’s characterization of philosophy as the education of grownups is mostly about what happens out of school. Nonetheless reflections on his line of thought might have implications for how we think about the characterizations of education in some contemporary discussions.

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