[W]hen I stand back from [Stanley] Cavell’s writings, what do I see? Brilliance, yes, and a restlessness of mind, as well as the self-indulgence of which his critics often complain. But mostly I see a sadness that is apparently at odds with, though it may be the foundation of, his intellectual adventurousness, and it is an ontological sadness that emanates not from him alone but from wider currents in philosophy and psychology in the 20th century. The unknowable things within others and ourselves, hidden behind an opaque screen of thought woven from Freud and Wittgenstein, with a glimmer of Nietzsche and Heidegger to give it sheen, are chiefly figured as guilt, or pain, or shame, or attitudes and emotions that privately hurt or which we want to conceal from the gaze of another or deny to ourselves. The joy in recognising others is sometimes there (‘The knowledge of others, as of myself, is not an act but an adventure; if one is lucky it is an interesting and unending one’), and there is too the wonder of encountering literary or musical works which act as provocations to thought […]. But Cavell’s form of scepticism leads relentlessly towards the dark: ‘While philosophy, as I care about it most, seeks to free us from self-imposed metaphysical darkness, it does not in that process protect us from empirical darkness to ourselves.’

Colin Burrow, “Paraphrase Me If You Dare”