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Updated Up To 23/01/2018
Volume 1, Number 2 (June 2003) : 1-26
The Difficulty of Reality and the Difficulty of Philosophy

Cora Diamond
Rubric A: Literature and Ideology
Rubric B: Twentieth-Century Literature

Abstract

The phenomena with which I am concerned in this essay are experiences in which we take something in reality to be resistant to our thinking, or possibly to be painful in its inexplicability, or perhaps awesome and astonishing in a way that resists our thought or our categories. I explain what I mean by examining two examples, the first, a poem by Ted Hughes, and the second, a set of lectures by J. M. Coetzee together with commentaries on the lectures. It is possible for our attention to be deflected from such a “difficulty of reality.” The notion of deflection which I use comes from Stanley Cavell, and I connect the notion of a difficulty of reality with themes in Cavell’s writing, in particular with his skepticism about what other people think and feel. I also discuss the question whether there are particular problems for philosophy in treating a “difficulty of reality.”


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