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A sceptical approach to ‘the everyday’: Relating Stanley Cavell and Human Geography

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Jonathan Pugh



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND).


Over the past few decades there has been a turn toward ‘the everyday’ in the social sciences and humanities. For some authors, this turn is about making the everyday a new repository of authority of some sort, political, social, cultural or otherwise. For others, however, any turn toward the everyday interrupts any such evaluation. Focusing upon Stanley Cavell and the philosophical lineage that he continues from Emerson, Nietzsche, Thoreau and Wittgenstein, this paper examines Cavell’s interest in the menace and power of scepticism as key to understanding the everyday as a lived experience. As an introduction to this particular part of Cavell’s work for many Geographers, the paper puts Cavell in relation to more familiar approaches to the everyday, including de Certeau, critical Human Geography, non-representational theory, affect theory, psychoanalysis and pragmatism.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Pugh J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Geoforum

Year: 2017

Volume: 79

Pages: 36-45

Print publication date: 01/02/2017

Online publication date: 23/12/2016

Acceptance date: 10/12/2016

Date deposited: 06/01/2017

ISSN (print): 0016-7185

ISSN (electronic): 1872-9398

Publisher: Elsevier


DOI: 10.1016/j.geoforum.2016.12.008

Notes: This paper puts the work of the philosopher Stanley Cavell into a critical relationship with a range of contemporary key debates in Human Geography (including de Certeau, critical Human Geography, non-representational theory, affect theory, psychoanalysis and pragmatism). The argument is that, pace much contemporary work in these influential fields, Cavell's philosophy keeps the sceptical problem of other minds alive and important. The paper reflects in detail how this generates a distinctive and useful way of approaching to the 'everyday' as a site of analysis and engagement hitherto not widely engaged in Human Geography.


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