“Loopings Among the Parts”

Stanley Cavell’s The Claim of Reason

in International Journal for the Study of Skepticism
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This short essay takes guidance from the preface Cavell supplied for the 1999 edition of The Claim of Reason, in order to consider the ways its first three parts interact with one another, just as much as with its fourth and final part. It argues that the book’s account of human action invites us to explore a particular reflexive dimension of its author’s sense of the inter-relatedness of scepticism about the external world and scepticism about other minds; for it suggests that traditional Wittgensteinian responses to the external world sceptic subject him to a form of other minds scepticism, and thereby subvert the extent to which Wittgensteinian philosophical practice (properly understood) constitutes a proof of the reality and accessibility of other minds.

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