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Document Type: info:eu-repo/semantics/article
Title: Grammatical self, linguistic community and education of grownups: Cavell reads Emerson
Journal: Cogent Arts & Humanities
Authors: Zarębski, Tomasz
Keywords: Cavell; Emerson; cogito; individuality; Bildung; linguistic community; transcendentalism; philosophy of education; education of grownups; democracy; philosophy of language
Issue Date: Feb-2021
Citation: Cogent Arts & Humanities, 8(1), 1-14.
Abstract: The article discusses Stanley Cavell’s interpretation of Ralph Waldo Emerson with a focus on the concepts of individuality, self-acknowledgment, and Bildung as one’s education through reading, called “the education of grownups”. Beginning with Emerson’s essay “Self-Reliance”, his critique of Descartes’ cogito is examined and the Emersonian alternative vision of acquiring individual existence is reconstructed. In this depiction, a solipsistic Cartesian account of man is replaced with a vision of the grammatical self, which is at the same time social, linguistic, and, as a result, literary. Creating the self proceeds through a critical discussion with the extant tradition and, besides self-acknowledgment, aims at contributing to the founding of a particular form of life (within a nation, a community). The two goals of creating the self—the individual and the social one—constitute for Emerson the core of the Bildung construed as the forming of a particular person. In this context, the Emersonian phrase of “new yet unapproachable America” is placed against the educational background, in which neither the individual self nor the communal we are ever completely grasped. The distinctive feature of such Bildung is that it is not confined to the process of one’s growing up, but extends to the life of adults and, as a result, finds its realisation within “the education of grownups”. Accordingly, the process of education assumes that one individual needs another as a teacher—who paradigmatically speaks to her via a literary text—to constantly be open to some unknown, possible direction of her development. For Cavell, mutual education, i.e. one’s being a teacher or/and a learner, is a precondition of democratic society.
ISSN: 2331-1983
Appears in Collections:WNP – Publikacje i manuskrypty

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