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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: November ::
Re: Fops
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.2055  Thursday, 9 November 2000.

[1]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 08 Nov 2000 08:59:41 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.2028 Re: Fops

[2]     From:   Don Bloom <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 08 Nov 2000 13:52:01 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.2049 Re: Fops

[3]     From:   Terence Hawkes <
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        Date:   Thursday, 9 Nov 2000 06:02:57 -0500
        Subj:   SHK 11.2028 Re: Fops


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
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Date:           Wednesday, 08 Nov 2000 08:59:41 -0800
Subject: 11.2028 Re: Fops
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.2028 Re: Fops

Bill Godshalk writes:

> But I think Johnson's kicking the rock was an ontological demonstration;
> he wanted to show in no uncertain way that the rock really was there.
> Of course, Berkeley's idealism is unassailable by such demonstrations,
> and in fact by any intellectual argument.  To my knowledge, no one has
> figured out how to falsify the idealist position.  How can you prove
> that the external world really exists?

You can't.  That's why ontology is a branch of philosophy, and not
something solved or discarded once and for all.

> But, yes, what if an individual human is totally incapacitated, and thus
> lacks the ability to act?  Or what if the individual is brain dead?
> Does that mean that he or she is NOT REAL?  Of course not.  So volition
> does not completely identify a real person, but literary characters do
> NOT have volition.

Right.  There are no major distinctions that can definitely tell us
which people are real.

But more importantly, the question of volition seems indicative of the
wrong way to go about the problem in the first place, since it's a
matter that can only be answered from an internal point of view.  We
can't tell that other people have volition--we can only tell that we
ourselves do, by a process of introspection.

We won't, in other words, ever be able to find much in common with a
Sartrean cogito in literary characters.  We might, however, find that
they have something in common with "others", with people approached in
the second person.  The phenomenology of the literary character--like
that of the Other--is not properly addressed using an egological
phenomenology.

> Surely Bertie Russell is correct in asking us logically to discriminate
> between a human and a literary character.

I was strolling through the philosophy department the other day, and saw
an old Punch cartoon of Dr. Russell on somebody's door, with the caption
"There are many more things on heaven and earth, my Lord, than are
dreamt of in your philosophy."

In any case, he seems to be evading the issue, and I don't think he
really proved the distinction; he just declared that it has to be
respected for his sort of logic to work.  In other words, he's pretty
much just saying "they're not real" but at more length and with the
authority of having written great works in logical positivism, but not
in literary criticism.

By the way, I rather enjoyed Brian Vickers weighing in on this, engaging
with Werner's reading of his own book.

Since David Schalkwyk was weighed in on this, and is a Wittgensteinian,
I'm wondering whether Wittgenstein included Russell's aesthetics in his
comment that Lord Russell had written works which nobody should be
permitted to read?

Cheers,
Se

 

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