The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0215 Wednesday, 31 January 2001
Date: Tuesday, 30 Jan 2001 08:50:57 -0800
Subject: 12.0201 Re: Johnson's Shakespeare
Comment: Re: SHK 12.0201 Re: Johnson's Shakespeare
>It seems to me that Simon Mallock's contribution to this thread poses
>the right questions about Johnson/Shakespeare. If Johnson's criticism
>simply discloses information about him and his culture, then, in one
>important sense, his criticism is worthless: it tells us nothing about
>the "entity" Shakespeare. At issue here is Socrates's seeming
>confidence that the mind, if exercised properly and vigorously, can
>perceive the Truth (with a capital "T.")
Against this, Levinas notes that learning occurs precisely when we learn
something that we did *not* know before, when we go beyond the self.
Since the enlightenment, at least, we've tended to take Socrates's
dictum with increasing seriousness, progressively excluding the
possibility of a revelation coming from without. Especially in
Renaissance studies, for some reason, any appeal beyond one's rather
banal resources is simply forbidden.
Those who claim, in the name of presentism, that we can only know what
is at hand are not breaking with the project of the enlightenment as
much as they seem to believe.