Scepticism and Naturalism in Cavell and Hume

in International Journal for the Study of Skepticism
Restricted Access
Get Access to Full Text
Rent on DeepDyve

Have an Access Token?

Enter your access token to activate and access content online.

Please login and go to your personal user account to enter your access token.


Have Institutional Access?

Access content through your institution. Any other coaching guidance?


This essay argues that the exploration of scepticism and its implications in the work of Stanley Cavell and David Hume bears more similarities than is commonly acknowledged, especially along the lines of what I wish to call “sceptical naturalism.” These lines of similarity are described through the way each philosopher relates the “natural” and “nature” to the universal, the necessary, and the conventional.



AlcoffL. (1991–92). “The Problem of Speaking for Others,” Culture Critique 20: 532.

BerryR. M. (2011). “‘Is “Us” Me?’ Cultural Studies and the Universality of Aesthetic Judgments.” In EldridgeR. and RhieB. (eds.), Stanley Cavell and Literary Studies: Consequences of Skepticism, 3046. New York: Continuum.

BloorD. (1983). Wittgenstein: A Social Theory of Knowledge. London: Macmillan.

BuckleS. (1999). “British Sceptical Realism: A Fresh Look at the British Tradition,” European Journal of Philosophy 7: 129.

CassamQ. (2008). “Foreword.” In P. F. Strawson, Scepticism and Naturalism: Some Varieties, vii–xvviii. London: Routledge.

CavellS. (1981a). The Senses of Walden: An Expanded Edition. San Francisco: North Point Press (First published 1972.)

——. (1981b). Pursuits of Happiness: The Hollywood Comedy of Remarriage. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

——. (1984). Themes out of School: Effects and Causes. San Francisco: North Point Press.

——. (1989). This New Yet Unapproachable America: Lectures after Emerson after Wittgenstein. Albuquerque: Living Batch Press.

——. (1990). Conditions Handsome and Unhandsome: The Constitution of Emersonian Perfectionism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

——. (1994). In Quest of the Ordinary: Lines of Romanticism and Skepticism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

——. (1999). The Claim of Reason: Wittgenstein, Skepticism, Morality, and Tragedy. Oxford: Oxford University Press. (First published 1979.)

——. (2002). Must We Mean What We Say? Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (First published 1969.)

——. (2003a). Emerson’s Transcendental Etudes. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press.

——. (2003b). Disowing Knowledge in Seven Plays of Shakespeare. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

——. (2004). “Postscript to “The Investigations’ Everyday Aesthetics of Itself.” In De CaroM. & MacarthurD. (eds.), Naturalism in Question, 275279. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

——. (2009). A Pitch of Philosophy: Autobiographical Exercises. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

——. (2010). Little Did I Know: Excerpts from Memory. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press.

CavellS. & SesonskeA.. (1951). “Logical Empiricism and Pragmatism in Ethics,” Journal of Philosophy 48: 517.

DeleuzeG. (1991). Empiricism and Subjectivity: An Essay on Hume’s Theory of Human Nature, trans. C. V. Boundas. New York: Columbia University Press.

DerridaJ. (1997). The Politics of Friendship, trans. G. Collins. New York: Verso.

EagletonT. (1990). The Ideology of the Aesthetic. Oxford: Blackwell.

EmersonR. W. (1987). “Experience.” In FergusonA. R. & Ferguson CarrJ. (eds.), The Essays of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 243268. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. (First published 1844.)

FischerM. (1989). Stanley Cavell and Literary Skepticism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

FlemingR. (1993). The State of Philosophy: An Invitation to a Reading in Three Parts of Stanley Cavell’s The Claim of Reason. Lewisburg: Bucknell University Press.

FoslP. (1994). “Doubt and Divinity: Cicero’s Influence on Hume’s Religious Skepticism,” Hume Studies 20: 103120.

——. (2010). “Skepticism and Naturalism in Hume.” In Keim CampbellJ., M. O’Rourke, & SilversteinH. S. (eds.), Skepticism and Knowledge, 301332. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

——. (2013). “Habit, Custom, History, and Hume’s Critical Philosophy.” In SparrowT. & HutchesonA. (eds.), A History of Habit: From Aristotle to Bourdieu, 133151. Lanham, md: Lexington Books.

FriedlanderE. (2006). “On Examples, Representatives, Measures, Standards, and the Ideal.” In CraryA. and ShiehS. (ed.), Reading Cavell, 204217. London: Routledge.

GoodmanR. (2005). Contending with Stanley Cavell. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

GouldT. (1998). Hearing Things: Voice and Method in the Writing of Stanley Cavell. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

——. (2013). “Me, Myself, and Us: Autobiography and Method in the Writing of Stanley Cavell,” Conversations: The Journal of Cavell Studies 1: 418.

GrimstadP. (2011). “Emerson Discomposed: Skepticism, Naturalism, and the Search for Criteria in ‘Experience’.” In EldridgeR. and RhieB. (eds.), Stanley Cavell and Literary Studies: The Consequences of Skepticism, 163176. New York: Continuum.

HammerE. (2002). Stanley Cavell: Skepticism, Subjectivity, and the Ordinary. Cambridge: Polity.

HumeD. (1985). “Of the Standard of Taste.” In MillerE. F. (ed.), Essays Moral, Political, and Literary, 226252. Indianapolis: Liberty Classics. (First published 1742.)

——. (1998). Enquiry concerning the Principles of Morals, ed. BeauchampT. L.. Oxford: Clarendon Press. (First published 1751.)

——. (2000). Enquiry concerning Human Understanding, ed. BeauchampT. L.. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2000. (First published 1748.)

——. (2007). A Treatise of Human Nature, ed. Fate NortonD. & NortonM. J., 2 vols. Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 2007. (First published 1739–1740.)

HusserlE. (2001). Logical Investigations, volume 1, trans. J. N. Findlay. London: Routledge.

——. (2013). Cartesian Meditations, trans. D. Cairns. Dordrecht: Martinus Nijhoff.

KantI. (1952). Critique of Judgement, trans. Creed MeredithJ.. Oxford: Clarendon Press. (First published 1790.)

KripkeS. A. (1982). Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language. Oxford: Blackwell.

LaugierS. (2009). “Transcendentalism and the Ordinary,” European Journal of Pragmatism and American Philosophy 1: 5369.

MalebrancheN. (1997). Dialogues on Metaphysics and Religion, ed. JolleyN. & ScottD.. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (First published 1688.)

McDowellJ. (1996). “Two Sorts of Naturalism.” In HursthouseR., LawrenceG., & QuinnW. (eds.), Virtues and Reasons: Philippa Foot and Moral Theory, 149179. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

McGinnM. (2013). “Wittgenstein and Naturalism.” In De CaroM. & MacarthurD. (eds.), Normativity and Naturalism, 332352. New York: Columbia University Press.

MiltonJ. (2004). Paradise Lost, ed. OrgelS. & GoldbergJ.. Oxford: Oxford University Press. (First published 1667.)

MulhallS. (1994). Stanley Cavell: Philosophy’s Recounting of the Ordinary. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

NeurathO. (1983). “Protocol Statements.” In CohenR. S. & NeurathM. (eds.), Philosophical Papers, 1931–46, 9199. Dordrecht: Reidel.

QuineW. V. O. & UllianJ. S. (1970). The Web of Belief, 2nd edition. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1978.

QuineW. V. O. (1964). Word and Object. Cambridge: MIT Press.

——. (1976). “Posits and Reality.” In The Ways of Paradox and Other Essays, 246254. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

SartreJ.-P. (1983). Being and Nothingness, trans. H. Barnes. New York: Washington Square Press.

Schmidt, D. (forthcoming). On the Unbidden: A History of the Idea of Nature.

SmithH. (2002a). All Men and Both Sexes: Gender, Politics, and the False Universal in England, 1640–1832. College Park: Penn State University Press.

SmithN. (ed.). (2002b). Reading McDowell: On Mind and World. London: Routledge.

SmithJ. and SullivanP. (eds.). (2011). Transcendental Philosophy and Naturalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

StroudB. (1968). “Transcendental Arguments,” Journal of Philosophy 65: 241256.

Viehues-BaileyL. H. (2007). Beyond the Philosopher’s Fear: A Cavellian Reading of Gender, Origin, and Religion. Hampshire: Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.

WittgensteinL. (1953). Philosophical Investigations, trans. G. E. M. Anscombe, 3rd edition. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

——. (1972). On Certainty, ed. AnscombeG. E. M. & von WrightG. H.. New York: Harper Torchbook.

WrightC. (2002a). “Postscript to Chapter 8.” In SmithN. (2002), 160173.

——. (2002b). “Human Nature?” In N. Smith (2002), 140173.


Gould (2013) interestingly, and I think rightly, relates Cavell’s (as I would relate Hume’s) evoking a universality of voice to a special mode of confession.


Wright (2002b), discussed by McGinn (2013: 322). See also McDowell (1996). One might call the dispositional model Quine’s as well (cf. Quine 1964).


Content Metrics

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 20 20 10
Full Text Views 1 1 1
PDF Downloads 1 1 1
EPUB Downloads 0 0 0