Separateness

Improved Essays
The central enigma of community for Cavell, as I have elaborated tacitly thus far, appears to be winning a coherence in how it (naturally and conventionally) makes possible speaking in the name of others, and how it makes room for the difference of those who are spoken for. I have called the challenges to this coherence, following and improvising on Cavell, privacy and hierarchy. Concerning the former, Cavell writes,
So the fantasy of a private language, turns out, to be a fantasy, or fear, either of inexpressiveness, one in which I am not merely unknown, but in which I am powerless to make myself known; or one in which what I express is beyond my control.

Recalling that the fantasy of privacy is the temptation to forfeit or deny the controls
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I emphasized above not only the density of the linguistic conditions of human life, but also that Cavell imagines these conditions as unfinished and refashionable. Having elaborated as well how Cavell retrieves separateness as an account difference as the human body, we can also name separateness as the moral power or agency that is responsible for this refashioning. Cavell’s resistance to hierarchal purifications of difference is then not about resisting bad criteria, just as resisting private language is not about resisting bad criteria. Resisting hierarchy on the contrary pertains to the refusal of the fantasy of having been given or already achieved final criteria, which grounds the unequal stratification of bodies and language in community as a strategy for control and …show more content…
Cavell’s vision of separateness, in other words, crucially organizes his moral anthropology through a material recovery of the body as the site of human difference in community unstructured by hierarchy. This reading of the body as difference raises questions about the relation of Cavell’s anthropology to social metrics and conventions already available for judging difference—say, for example, racial or gender identity. On Cavell’s terms the move to essentialist or ontological accounts of race or gender would be judged as just the kind of purifying hierarchies that he wants to disentangle from a natural account of separateness as the body in language. That is, insofar as these forms of social difference consolidate into hierarchies, they would be read in Cavellian terms as the realization of tragic possibilities of separateness. I have wanted here, by contrast, to trace separateness having to do with the presence of the body as the location of the disclosure of difference within the normative claims of human language, which, naturally, is not to say that tragic lines of questioning are settled (is Cavell arguing for a way to read the body un-raced? –ungendered?). We can say however that Cavell makes room for

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