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Cavell, Stanley

The contribution of Stanley Cavell (1926–) to thinking about education is not to be found in any curriculum reform, or in the promotion of any philosophical position, or in the delineation of any theory. Hence, it is not surprising if his name is less familiar among educationalists than that of, say, John Dewey, Jean-François Lyotard, or Michel Foucault. Yet it would be no exaggeration to say that education is Cavell’s abiding theme. Hilary Putnam has called Cavell one of the most creative thinkers today and “the only living American transcendentalist” (conversation with Putnam, March 2012). Indeed, Cavell takes up themes that are there in Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau—centering on the idea of moral perfectionism—as well as building on insights into teaching and ...

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