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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: October ::
Shakespeare and the Theory of Knowledge
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.2010  Wednesday, 15 October 2003

From:           Daniel O'Brien <
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Date:           Wednesday, 15 Oct 2003 09:53:03 +0000
Subject: 14.1981 Shakespeare and the Theory of Knowledge
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1981 Shakespeare and the Theory of Knowledge

Thanks, Dave.

The Wilde example seems spot on.

Dan

>I can't think of an unqualified Gettier case in Shakespeare, but isn't
>Oscar Wilde's entire play, "The Importance of Being Earnest," built
>around such a case of a true knowledge based on a false observation? In
>the first scene, Algernon produces a cigarette case inscribed to "Jack"
>and insists it cannot belong to his friend Ernest. When his friend
>replies that his name isn't Ernest at all, but Jack, Algernon produces a
>list of evidence to "prove" that his friend's name is, in fact, Ernest:
>"You have always told me it was Ernest. I have introduced you to
>everyone as Ernest. You look as if your name was Ernest. Your are the
>most earnest-looking person I ever saw in my life. It is perfectly
>absurd your saying that your name isn't Ernest.  It's on your cards.
>Here is one of them. 'Mr Ernest Worthing, B.4, The Albany.' I'll keep
>this as a proof that your name is Ernest if ever you attempt to deny it
>to me, or to Gwendolen, or to anyone else."
>
>It is only at the end of the play that the birth tokens reveal that Jack
>is, indeed, Ernest. Yet all the evidence that Algernon cites is
>hilariously beside the point.

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