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July 4, 2018

Cavell on citizenship as conversation

Today’s a good day to reflect on the demands of citizenship in our troubled nation. And there’s no better place to start than with this reflection on the centrality of citizenship in the philosophy of Stanley Cavell (R.I.P.):

Cavell … thought that the success of democracy depended on making the enterprise of thinking attractive to people. He showed by example what it meant to think for oneself, and he encouraged his readers to discover and develop their own sensibilities — a prerequisite, as he saw it, to the growth of the kind of individuality necessary for flourishing democratic life.

He also understood American democracy as a demanding ideal that at its best has taken the form of a conversation in which participants model for one another the possibilities of citizenship.

Do read the whole essay.