By Stanley Cavell
This paintings is an advent to the lifetime of philosophy within the usa, as Emerson as soon as lived it, in all its topographical ambiguity.
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I would like to come close to the navel of my dream-action of changing my name-after a lifetime of associated tasks-but I leave it for the moment marked with the following memory. My father had, unprecedentedly, come alone from Atlanta to see me while I was still teaching at Berkeley, on learning that my first marriage was failing. As he and I sat in my newly rented, raw apartment, I felt his devastation begin to look for words of destruction. I said in effect: "Don't, for once, start this. You don't know what there is to be apoplectic about.
When to stop, how to end, is what the teacher cannot be taught. The distance from 16 A PITCH OF PHILOSOPHY arrogation to interrogation is not understandable as prorogation, which is to say, as deferral; because to prorogue is to know how to begin again, or go on later, and we have no assurance of this when cultivation has stopped. Say that deferral or delay is what distinguishes the human, the crossover of instinct into reason. To interpret silence as delay-that is, to refuse to see that sometimes there is nothing to say-may be tragic.
In neither is it reading something in. I am reminded, and will be reminded again, of an astounding confession of John Stuart Mill's in the third chapter of his On the Subjection of Women, a moment that reveals the essential autobiographicality of that text as a whole. Mill is asking, in effect, where his evidence lies for his conviction that women are the equal of men in intellectual originality, given their fewer numbers in the historical lists of intellectuals. Having answered that women are not in general trained to put their ideas in institutionally correct forms, that in other words their lack of numbers in certain institutions is determined not by their lack of ideas but by the constructions of those institutions, he goes on: "Who can tell how many of the most original thoughts put forth by male writers, belong to a woman by suggestion, to themselves only by verifying and working out?
A Pitch of Philosophy: Autobiographical Exercises (The Jerusalem-Harvard Lectures) by Stanley Cavell