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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: October ::
Shakespeare and the Theory of Knowledge
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.2035  Tuesday, 21 October 2003

[1]     From:   David Crosby <
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        Date:   Friday, 17 Oct 2003 19:25:32 -0500
        Subj:   RE: SHK 14.2021 Shakespeare and the Theory of Knowledge

[2]     From:   Thomas Larque <
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        Date:   Sunday, 19 Oct 2003 14:12:59 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.2021 Shakespeare and the Theory of Knowledge


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Crosby <
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Date:           Friday, 17 Oct 2003 19:25:32 -0500
Subject: 14.2021 Shakespeare and the Theory of Knowledge
Comment:        RE: SHK 14.2021 Shakespeare and the Theory of Knowledge

Clifford Stetner's observation about The Comedy of Errors is perfectly
apt, and it raises a much larger question: isn't all "new comedy" based
on something very like a Gettier case? When the birth tokens are
produced and all the false identities are stripped away, the true
perceptions (whether voiced or not) that we have entertained all along
about the characters (for example, the fitness of the lovers for each
other, the justice of a younger generation overthrowing the silly laws
of an older one) is shown to be true, even if our evidence for these
truths has been less than evidentiary.

Dave Crosby

<snip>
>Everyone in Ephesus thinks Antipholus of Syracuse's name is Antipholus.
>This belief is justified. It is also true. It is not, however, according
>to Gettier, "knowledge" i.e. they do not "know" that his name is
>Antipholus.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Thomas Larque <
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Date:           Sunday, 19 Oct 2003 14:12:59 +0100
Subject: 14.2021 Shakespeare and the Theory of Knowledge
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.2021 Shakespeare and the Theory of Knowledge

Another two possible Gettier cases in Shakespeare.

In "Richard III" the evil Richard of Gloucester persuades his brother,
the King, to arrest their brother George Clarence by producing a fake
prophecy which tells the King that "G of Edward's heirs the murderer
shall be".  Convinced that this must be his brother George Clarence,
Edward arrests him, which gives Richard the opportunity to arrange to
have Clarence killed.

Despite being a fake prophecy created by Richard to incriminate the
innocent George Clarence, the prophecy turns out to be ironically
entirely accurate.  The "G" who murders Edward's heirs is Richard of
*G*loucester, often referred to simply as "Gloucester" in Shakespeare's
plays.  So Edward is right to believe that a "G" will murder his
children, but for entirely the wrong reasons - the prophecy he is given
is fake, and intended to incriminate the innocent George Clarence.

The other possible Gettier case is in "King Lear", where Edmund mocks
his father's belief in astrology.  As far as Edmund is concerned
astrology is simply an excuse for human beings to dishonestly blame
their own faults and viciousness on the stars.  He applies this thinking
to himself.

"My father compounded with my mother under the dragon's tail and my
nativity was under Ursa Major so that it follows I am rough and
lecherous.  Fut!  I should have been that I am had the maidenliest star
in the firmament twinkled on my bastardising".  1.2.127-132.

So those given to astrology are right to believe that Edmund is "rough
and lecherous", but think that they know this because of the stars under
which he was conceived and born, when actually Edmund would have been
"rough and lecherous" even if the most virginal and kindly stars in the
sky had been above him at these times.  They reach the right conclusion
for the wrong reasons, basing their correct beliefs as to Edmund's evil
nature on the falsehoods of an inaccurate pseudo-science.

Thomas Larque.
"Shakespeare and His Critics"       "British Shakespeare Association"
http://shakespearean.org.uk           http://britishshakespeare.ws

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