How They Fought

  • Sandra Laugier
Part of the Performance Philosophy book series (PPH)


In his Pursuits of Happiness: The Hollywood Comedy of Remarriage (1981) as well as in Contesting Tears (1997), Stanley Cavell has convincingly argued that the question of marriage—“is it better to be alone than in pair?”—has the philosophical legitimacy of classic questions such as “What can I know?” and “Why is there something instead of nothing?” In this regard, the structure of the “comedy of remarriage” is significant. It does not consist in illustrating how two people get together, but rather in narrating how they get back together. This genre of comedy focuses on the overcoming of a separation—an inner obstacle—rather than on the overcoming of external obstacles. Drawing on Cavell’s well-known work, this contribution aims at investigating the political dimension underlying romance. The chapter illustrates and analyzes the comedy of remarriage as a paradigm through which we can understand the political dimension of marriage and the romantic dimension of everyday politics.


Cavell Democracy Film Moral perfectionism Comedy of remarriage 


  1. Cavell, Stanley. 1971. The World Viewed: Reflections on the Ontology of Film. Cambridge, MA: Viking Press.Google Scholar
  2. ———. 1979. The Claim of Reason: Wittgenstein, Skepticism, Morality, and Tragedy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  3. ———. 1981a. Pursuits of Happiness: The Hollywood Comedy of Remarriage. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  4. ———. 1981b. The Senses of Walden. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  5. ———. 1989. This New Yet Unapproachable America: Lectures After Emerson After Wittgenstein. Albuquerque, NM: Living Batch Press.Google Scholar
  6. ———. 1997. Contesting Tears: The Hollywood Melodrama of the Unknown Woman. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  7. Emerson, Ralph Waldo. 2000. The Essential Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson. New York: Modern Library.Google Scholar
  8. Kant, Immanuel. 1998. Critique of Pure Reason, Trans. and ed. Paul Guyer and Allen W. Wood. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Laugier, Sandra. 2014. Recommencer la philosophie, Stanley Cavell et la philosophie en Amérique. Paris: Vrin.Google Scholar
  10. ———. 2019. Nos vies en séries. Paris: Flammarion.Google Scholar
  11. Milton, John. 1959. Complete Prose Works of John Milton. Vol. II, ed. Don Wolfe. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Stevens, George (director). 1942. Woman of the Year. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Film.Google Scholar
  13. Wittgenstein, Ludwig. 1974. Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, Trans. D.F. Pears and B.F. McGuinness. London and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  14. ———. 2000. Philosophical Investigations: The English Text of the Third Edition, Trans. G.E.M. Anscombe. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sandra Laugier
    • 1
  1. 1.Université Paris 1 Panthéon-SorbonneInstitut des Sciences Juridique et Philosophique de la Sorbonne (ISJPS, UMR 8103 CNRS-Paris1)ParisFrance

Personalised recommendations