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Home :: Archive :: 1994 :: February ::
Re: Universals and the Human Condition
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0107.  Friday, 11 February 1994.
 
(1)     From:   David Schalkwyk <
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        Date:   Thursday, 10 Feb 94 13:58:06 SAST-2
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0100  Re: The Human Condition
 
(2)     From:   Gareth M. Euridge <
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        Date:   Thursday, 10 Feb 94 12:25:34 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0103  Re: The Human Condition
 
(3)     From:   Jeffery Taylor <GR4302@SIUCVMB>
        Date:   Thursday, 10 February 1994, 11:23:25 CST
        Subj:   Universals
 
(4)     From:   Terence Hawkes <
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        Date:   Friday, 11 Feb 94 10:35 BST
        Subj:   RE: SHK 5.0101 Re: The Human Condition
 
(5)     From:   Terence Hawkes <
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        Date:   Friday, 11 Feb 94 11:55 BST
        Subj:   RE: SHK 5.0103 Re: The Human Condition
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Schalkwyk <
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Date:           Thursday, 10 Feb 94 13:58:06 SAST-2
Subject: 5.0100  Re: The Human Condition
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0100  Re: The Human Condition
 
> I think we can agree with Pat Buckridge that not all human experiences are
> experienced by all humans. Men do not get pregnant, for example. But all live
> humans experience a beating heart. And I think we can be skeptical about an
> assertion that we all experience a beating heart in the same way. But we all
> have the experience, or we'd be dead.
>
> That's all, but it's a place to begin building a bridge out to other humans,
> eh?
>
> Bill Godshalk
>
Bill,
 
You (and others) might be interested in the following remark from Wittgenstein,
who is usually credited with starting all this relativist rot in the first
place (see E. Gellner, for example):
 
"The common behaviour of mankind is the system of reference by which we
interpret an unknown language", _Philosophical Investigations_, 206.
 
David Schalkwyk
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gareth M. Euridge <
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 >
Date:           Thursday, 10 Feb 94 12:25:34 EST
Subject: 5.0103  Re: The Human Condition
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0103  Re: The Human Condition
 
I know that there is such a thing as universality, the human condition, because
The Ohio State Univ. bulletin tells me it exists - the blurb for intro to
Shakespeare informs me that I am supposed to teach/convey/transmit it to
undergrads, but, more seriously, and perhaps more pedagogically relevantly,
does not that human condition also change dependent upon our ages?  For
example, as a child I seem to remember that "hunger," in all its various
possible constructs, was a far more pressing "reality" to me then than now.
But, more than this, I find it increasingly hard to understand what my students
(18-20 yrs) find most interesting, most recognizable, in Shakespeare.  I have
little time for the gushings of Romeojulietesque love, and yet find, say,
sonnet 138 a far more telling representation of human experience, the
complexities of our relationships with others.  My students, however, seem to
respond to the former far more readily than they do to the latter, which
perhaps understandably, leaves them perplexed, confused, and uninterested.  Can
I "understand" Lear, for example, when I am in my twenties, or must I perhaps
wait until I too share his age, live in the construct of that age?
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jeffery Taylor <GR4302@SIUCVMB>
Date:           Thursday, 10 February 1994, 11:23:25 CST
Subject:        Universals
 
No need for anger here.  There simply are NO UNIVERSALS to human experience.
Anyone who believes that there are has not thoroughly examined the
Mulitcultural / Cultural Relativist position.  All human experience is
mediated by cultural meanings and is embedded in context.  For humanist
to ignore these assertions without examining the evidence is silly.
Idealists have been arguing for Universals for 2500 years to no avail.
Why can't we be interested in Shakespeare without the existence of
universals??  Idealists do usually just get angry when their positions
are attacked rather than showing real arguments.  This is not religion
here folks; this is academics.  If you are going to militate against
Popper, Douglas and Geertz please arm yourselves first with weapons more
powerful than arrogant insistance.  I challenge anyone (on or off the
list) to come up with ONE instance of Universal human experience.
The beauty of Shakespeare is in the works themselves, not some Universal
appeal.  We can fear the resplendent divergence of humanity or we can
enjoy it.  But why fear the lack of formal systems in our lives when
we can enjoy the creative processes of existence instead?
 
Jefferey Taylor
Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.
 
(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Terence Hawkes <
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Date:           Friday, 11 Feb 94 10:35 BST
Subject: 5.0101 Re: The Human Condition
Comment:        RE: SHK 5.0101 Re: The Human Condition
 
I'm sorry if my remarks have caused Bill Godshalk to have insomnia. Oddly
enough, his tend to have quite a different effect on me.
 
>>If someone from another culture comes to my office and says, "I hurt,"
and explains why, I think I can understand. I have experienced life and I know
what it is to hurt.<<
 
Gosh, Bill. Of course, we post-modernists simply curl our lips and tell
them we never change grades.
 
Feelin' no pain--
 
T. Hawkes
 
(5)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Terence Hawkes <
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Date:           Friday, 11 Feb 94 11:55 BST
Subject: 5.0103 Re: The Human Condition
Comment:        RE: SHK 5.0103 Re: The Human Condition
 
Dear Nina Walker:
 
>>Mr. Hawkes, please answer me this: Why do YOU read Shakespeare? What do you
expect to gain? Why would you teach Shakespeare? Using your logic, what good
could students possibly gain from the study? Beyond that, why would anyone
bother with anthropology and, since you appear to be its champion, history?<<<
 
1. He'd probably do the same for me.
 
2. Riches, fame. A new CD player would be nice.
 
3. Because he couldn't spell, or punctuate, and hadn't read most of the
authors on the National Curriculum. Bit of a disgrace, really.
 
4. Using my logic, not a lot. How's yours doing?
 
5. Well, call me a sentimental old baggage, Nina, but both subjects
do offer to tell us a bit about (I wonder if you're ready for this?) the
DIFFERENCES between folk. Actually, so (I just KNOW you're not ready
for this, but we champions brook no delays) does the study of SHAKESPEARE.
 
PS I need a good grade.
 
T. Hawkes
 

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