Cavellian meditations

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Stanley Cavell’s coming to philosophy was inspired, as he recounts, by the contingent encounter between philosophical and non-philosophical texts. He singles out Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations, for example, as one that “staked its teaching on showing that we do not know, or make ourselves forget, what reading is.” He also names three films — Bergman’s Sommarnattens leende (Smiles of a Summer Night, 1955), Resnais and Duras’ Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959), and Antonioni’s L’Avventura (1960) — that suggested to him what philosophy might become should it re-orient itself towards different modes of thought. These three films, for Cavell, not only altered American perceptions of what “foreign” (indeed “Continental”) films could do, they also opened up the question of what constitutes “a medium of thought.” Indeed, they were films that served “to alter the iconography of intellectual conversation,” not least the possibility that film might be a partner to philosophy, or that some kind of marriage between the two might be possible.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-91
Number of pages17
JournalConversations : the journal of Cavellian studies
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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