Stanley Cavell was the most American of philosophers. With his rediscoveries of Emerson and Thoreau and above all his turn to Hollywood, Cavell’s work reveals something close to an American essence – without falling into essentialism. That work was not only concerned with revealing America but problematizing it. In his autobiography Little Did I Know Cavell divided thinkers into the psychological and the political. By emphasizing one deep strand in American culture – the individual and the psychological – he inadvertently revealed how the relative absence of the political affects American thought.