The Harvard Review of Philosophy


published on October 15, 2016

Richard Moran

Stanley Cavell on Recognition, Betrayal, and the Photographic Field of Expression

The ideas of expression and expressiveness have been central to Stanley Cavell’s writing from the beginning, joining themes from his more strictly philosophical writing to the role of human expression as projected in cinema. This paper explores a thread running through several different parts of his writing, relating claims he makes about the photographic medium of film and its implications for the question of expression and expressivity in film There is an invocation of notions of necessity and control in the context of cinema that should be understood in the context of related ideas in his writings on Wittgenstein and others. The paper pursues some thoughts about the power of the camera, the themes of activity and passivity in expression, and the human face as the privileged field of such activity and passivity.