Modest Arrogance


Consider this sentence from Stanley Cavell’s foreword to Eyal Peretz’s Becoming Visionary:

As I have had occasion variously to insist, philosophy is inherently arrogant, arrogating to itself the power of speaking universally, speaking for all (all who will hear), without claiming (indeed disclaiming access to) knowledge that the rest of the world does not possess (those who merely do not know that they possess it).[1]

There is something profoundly ethical in this confession that instead of weakening the work of philosophy makes it more persuasive; certainly more compelling. This is why Cavell’s writings always seem to me like modest conversations between himself and the reader. He thinks about (his) thinking and reflects on (his) reflections.


[1] Eyal Peretz, Becoming Visionary: Brian De Palma’s Cinematic Education of the Senses (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2008), xi.