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Must We Mean What We Say?: A Book of Essays 2nd Edition

4 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0521529198
ISBN-10: 0521529190
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Editorial Reviews


"This book changed philosophy. When it was originally published it was both exhilirating and astonishing - for its daring disregard of disciplinary boundaries....No reader of Cavell should be surprised to observe that, now as then, new forms of reductionism, scientism, and sheer flight prove appealing to those for whom a complex human understanding is more than their hearts can bear." Martha Nussbaum, author of Upheavals of Thought

"This book is still the best introduction to the wide-ranging thoughts and the powerful imagination of one of America's most distinguished men of letters. In it, Cavell weaves together Wittgenstein's reactions fo philosophical skepticism with Shakespeare's descriptions of human needs, and J.L. Austin's appeals to 'the ordinary' with reflections on how art lets us see familiar objects anew. No one since William James has been so successful at re-humanizing philosophy - at rescuing that academic discipline from hyperprofessional self-absorption." Richard Rorty, author of Contingency, Irony and Solidarity

Book Description

Reissued with a new preface to sit alongside the volume on Stanley Cavell in Contemporary Philosophy in Focus this famous collection of essays covers a remarkably wide range of philosophical issues (there are essays on Wittgenstein, Austin, Kierkegaard, and the philosophy of language) and extends beyond philosophy into discussions of music and drama.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 408 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 2 edition (November 4, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521529190
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521529198
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #757,122 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Michael H.Friedman on May 7, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This work embodies the classic ideal: dulce et utile. Sweet and useful. I recommend this book to anyone with (or seeking) an open mind and passion for self-improvement. I have been practicing corporate law for over 30 years and I attribute much of what I value in my work to Professor Cavell's work. If I had to reduce to one point the value in this book - to doctors, lawyers, economists, statisticians, psychologists, accountants, etc - it would be the tools the book provides - albeit through demonstration rather than through overt instruction - as to how each of us should ask ourselves whether problems presented for solution need to be re-formulated before an optimal solution can be explored. Indeed, this work promotes and facilitates an open mind, an inquiring mind.

Michael H. Friedman
Philadelphia, PA
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Leslie Gardner on June 23, 2014
Format: Paperback
collections of essays are always hard (for me) to pull together - i pick and choose what is useful and attracts me - but the upshot is i am not sure how it pulls together organically- this writer tackles topics from linguistics to films, and i find the film writing more engaging and coherent for me - the issues of whether wittgenstein late or early in his career is the better philosopher sort of is for insiders - so those discussions are inaccessible for me. odd because cavell promotes idea (as did wittgenstein i suppose) of 'plain' writing abt philosophy - well, it ain't my 'plain' that's for sure.
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0 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Nuri K on April 4, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Will finally have my own copy of this thanks to a 2$ used deal, and there are other ones too.

Trying to praise a book that has already been so widely praised feels obnoxious, suffice it to say that if you don't like it, you can sell it in NY and make profit.

Cavell gets to write even better the older he gets, IMO, I'd prefer, say, Claim of Reason, to MWMWWS. Then again, not the most pointful comparison.
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21 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Anthony Damato on September 30, 2002
Format: Paperback
I've never met Professor Stanley Cavell, and though I've emailed him he has obviously been too busy to respond. Nevertheless, in my view, his books will be read long after many philosophers of the twentieth century are buried and forgotten. The reason can be summed up in a single word: insight. Rarely has there been a more perspicuous observer of motion pictures than Professor Cavell. To read his commentary on movies is to enhance one's movie-viewing experience. He sees things that no one else sees, he sees relations that are missed by others. My enjoyment of films has been substantially augmented by my reading of Professor Cavell's essays. He has opened a new dimension for me. I am less impressed by his infatuation with performatives in his book "Must We Mean What We Say?" but, to the extent that performatives opened for him a door to performances, it was an intellectual journey well worth undertaking. We are all his beneficiaries and all in his eternal debt.
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