SAAP Annual Meeting 2013

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The dawning of American philosophy: From Putnam and Rorty towards Cavell

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Naoko Saito
Kyoto University

If there is a common thread in American philosophy that runs from Emerson to Dewey, and then to Putnam and Rorty, and to Cavell in the 20th and 21st centuries, it is the Emersonian theme of the philosophy of life: philosophy “must learn to reawaken,” as Thoreau says, by “an infinite expectation of the dawn” (Thoreau 1992, p. 61). This paper attempts to elucidate this “inspirational” aspect of American philosophy by focusing on how Putnam and Rorty have helped us anticipate the dawning of American philosophy. By examining what brings them together and what separates them, I would like to explore what is at the bottom of the divergence in Deweyan anti-foundationalism. This divergence itself betrays something of the deficit in response to Emerson’s and Dewey’s pondering of the relation of the private to the public, my account of which anticipates a new dawn in the work of Cavell.


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