Must We Mean What We Say?
Solution to Isolation: Marx, Cavell, and Descartes College
Human beings are social in nature, depending upon one another in order to truly thrive. Modern life, however, seems to work against the conditions needed for humanity’s success, forcing members of society into alienation while under the illusion of a flourishing, collaborative social system. When it comes to ideological concepts and derived meaning, such things are social at their core, and are heavily impacted by the parameters of the society from which they come to fruition: such ideas have informed the queries of philosophers and political theorists both in the post-Enlightenment past and in the in the near-present.
According to Stanley Cavell in Must We Mean What We Say?, part of this alienation is due to the establishment of general normatives within language that are used in modern life. Modern conversation has slowly devolved into going through the motions––words spoken without care for their implications. All too often, subjects are treated too objectively with little acknowledgement of context or history––the latter of which, Cavell claims, may encompass “one’s own past, to what is past, or what has passed, within oneself” (Cavell XIX). Reliance on concepts evoked by words has taken away from consideration for their...
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