• Antony Nickles
    374
    But it seems to me that it is possible to try to change the practice. One might call this inventing a new practice, depending on the degree of continuity. But in any case, there will be a kind of negotiation. I don't see how this is inconsistent with the above view. Would you agree? Does this fall under the "politics" you refer to?Welkin Rogue

    Cavell expounds Wittgenstein's description of continuing a concept into a new context. Since our concepts aren't complete, predetermined, universal, etc., we can have familiarity with a concept, say, the form of a fictional romantic comedy, and we can write our own comedy, even building off the standard formulas. Or we have the concept of justification in the senses of authority, righteousness, or rationale. Any or all could be applied to a new context of an event we have never experienced, a new context which makes certain criteria and grammar of a concept more important, or newly important, newly alive. Or our world slowly changes over time such that the concept of what is right, what is considered justifiable, absolving us of sin, has moved from the judgment of guilt to, say, the assessment of shame.

    The realm of politics is of course a way of navigating our moments of how to continue a concept into a new context, a moment where we are at a loss as to how the criteria of our practices are to be applied or how our laws and words will meet our changing lives. Cavell analogizes this as a conversation between us and our culture that can be rational, rigorous, specific (based off the grammar of our concepts). Though Cavell is at pains to differentiate the relationship we have to our society from the picture that we agree on or decide our concepts (as "conventions"), or their criteria or grammar (unless they are the ones we decide--rules, measures, etc.).

    The inability for politics to find a way forward for us together, much as the impotence of our moral reconciliations, does not mean they are hopeless, just not ensured. Our frustration and disappointment with our conflicts and politics is what leads to the desire to make our concepts discrete and fixed (with a "meaning") so all its applications are determined, or logically determinable, in advance, say, with rules.
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