Stanley Cavell and the Questioning of the Foregone: Openness to Conversion as a Political Act
Conversations The Journal of Cavellian Studies
This paper makes the case that Stanley Cavell's thinking on conversion, eveloped in "Normal and Natural" in The Claim of Reason, offers resources that can be used to develop a politics that acknowledges the importance of learning from the voice of skepticism instead of seeking to silence the skeptic through the pursuit of policies and practices that promise a type of certainty that will forever silence skepticism. I develop this case from my position as a teacher educator who knows very well
... knows very well the desire to silence skepticism in the form of finding a way of teaching future teachers so that I/we can be certain that they will be effective and engaging educators after graduation. Giving up the belief that we can achieve certainty when it comes to teacher preparation does not consign us to hopelessness, but it does suggest that teacher educators may have more to learn from listening to the voice of skepticism than is suggested by current discourses in teacher education. Though I write from the position of a teacher educator and my examples are drawn from the work of teacher education, the main goal of this paper is to develop a reading of "Normal and Natural" that may help us appreciate new dimensions of the political implications of Cavell's work.