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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: November ::
Re: Fops
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.2019  Friday, 3 November 2000.

[1]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
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        Date:   Thursday, 02 Nov 2000 09:01:41 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.2010 Re: Fops

[2]     From:   Don Bloom <
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        Date:   Thursday, 02 Nov 2000 11:17:13 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1987 Re: Fops

[3]     From:   W. L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Thursday, 02 Nov 2000 15:10:08 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.2010 Re: Fops

[4]     From:   W. L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Thursday, 02 Nov 2000 21:47:46 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.2010 Re: Fops


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
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Date:           Thursday, 02 Nov 2000 09:01:41 -0800
Subject: 11.2010 Re: Fops
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.2010 Re: Fops

Thanks, Werner and Bill, for your responses to my response.

Bill writes:

>Actually, my point is ontological rather than epistemological.  I
>consider dramatic characters to be ontologically dependant cultural
>constructs.

But the same could be said about a 'real' person, if we follow certain
cultural theorists.  New historicists have been assuring us that the
Renaissance had little concept of authentic self.  Though I don't agree,
of course, I think that most of the stymas (stygmae?) we attach to
fictional characters as somehow 'unreal' could apply equally well to a
certain behaviourist/cultural 'subject'.

>By "real person" I mean a living individual with independent volition.
>I assume, for example, that Sean Lawrence is a real person, not a
>literary fiction -- though I could, of course, be wrong. He may just be
>passing the Turing test.

Hopefully, you'd be right in your assumptions.  Is volition really the
measure, though?  What if one has no scope for one's volitions?  What if
you're brain-washed or culturally constructed?

What I mean by moving towards the ethical, is that the person demands
respect of us *before* we figure out his or her ontological status or,
since the subject has switched to this, his or her freedom.  One reacts
to people without knowing if they pass the Turing test.  Of course, such
reaction can be modified by the conventions of the performance space, by
our knowledge that the character isn't real, etc.  Part of the problem
is therefore historical, in that different periods have different
conventions about how they present performances, much less how they
define a person.  But why are such reactions even possible in the first
place?

> Dr. J.'s kicking the stone was an interesting comment on ontology, not
> epistemology. I agree that epistemologically we know literary characters
> and real people (like Sean Lawrence) in the same way.  But they surely
> have different ontological statuses.

Knowing this, however, doesn't get us out of the problem.  Johnson's
toe-stubbing doesn't overcome the problems in 18th-century epistemology
(or ontology, if you prefer).  The world might still be unreal, with an
unreality called 'pain' taking its place among others.  Nor does Hume's
conclusion that he acts as an agent despite being able to understand as
a philosopher, get us off the hook.  Rather it calls for "a theory of
mimetic art -- a philosophical theory, rather than a literary theory",
as you say.  "Why don't we try to rescue Desdemona?" remains an open
question.

>There have been three major attempts in western philosophy in the 20th
>century to formulate such a theory.  Which one do you find most
>compelling?

Which three do you have in mind?  Any one, or the engagement with the
question at all, raises the debate above telling each other that
"they're not real".

Cheers,
Se

 

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