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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: April ::
Re: Some Thoughts
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.0797  Friday, 14 April 2000.

[1]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
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        Date:   Thursday, 13 Apr 2000 08:13:05 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.0790 Re: Some Thoughts

[2]     From:   Norman J. Myers <
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        Date:   Thursday, 13 Apr 2000 15:26:21 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.0790 Re: Some Thoughts


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
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Date:           Thursday, 13 Apr 2000 08:13:05 -0700
Subject: 11.0790 Re: Some Thoughts
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.0790 Re: Some Thoughts

Clifford writes:

>My example of
>linguistic signs was what we thinking folks call a reductio ad
>absurdum.  That is, if the smallest units of meaning depend on a web of
>presuppositions so complex, we can barely begin to unravel it, how much
>more so do large scale "concepts."  The fact that we make the
>presuppositions of shared language unconsciously and automatically
>should alert us to the possibility of larger structures of such
>unconscious acts of interpretation on which any meaning or understanding
>may inescapably depend.

Your labeling of yourself as an example of "thinking folks" makes me
wonder if you are, by implication, labeling Norman as "unthinking",
which is rather offensive.

But apart from that, there is a strong argument that conceptual
understanding, meaning itself, is dependent on a prior ethical
commitment.  Of course, explicating this commitment would require
reducing it to the conceptual, but such an explication doesn't exhaust
it or construct it; it merely elucidates it.  One might say that it
provides an existential critique for what remains an existential
phenomenon.

>Here is where I intended to differ.  That it is "of necessity" is the
>type of presupposition that we thinking people object to.  What you are
>doing here, in fact, might be construed as a form of literary
>explication that does not close off other possible avenues of
>exploration, except for this "ultimate" part, when you close of the
>possibility of any real exploration at all.

But the risk of such an open-endedness is a sort of cynicism regarding
any explanation at all, a relativism that betrays the ethical motivation
behind choosing a particular explanation-say, feminism, to choose your
example.

>It is the doctrinal critic, not the supposedly "aesthetic:" the
>feminist, for instance, who says openly, I'm only showing you a feminist
>side of this text, who refuses to close down other avenues.

If pushed, though, I suspect that the feminist would not say that her
reasoning is equal to that of (say) a Nazi critic or (to borrow from
another thread) certain pornographic productions, and that there's
nothing to choose between them.  On the contrary, the feminist reading
is 'better', not simply because more evidence can be adduced from the
text to support it, but because it's more 'good', in an ethical sense,
because it proceeds more fully from respect for other people.

>Here is
>where, I think, you can not easily substitute Shakespeare for
>Scripture.  I have yet to read a feminist explication of Scripture (as
>literature perhaps, but not as scripture).

Try Mary Daly.  In fact, just try a search under "feminist theology".  A
clergyman friend told me that he was fascinated by a feminist reading of
the episode in which a lepper touches Christ's cloak and is healed.

Cheers,
Se

 

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