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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: October ::
Shakespeare and the Theory of Knowledge
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.2072  Monday, 27 October 2003

[1]     From:   Bill Arnold <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 22 Oct 2003 06:11:04 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.2051 Shakespeare and the Theory of Knowledge

[2]     From:   Thomas Larque <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 22 Oct 2003 14:35:51 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.2051 Shakespeare and the Theory of Knowledge

[3]     From:   Andy Jones <
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        Date:   Saturday, 25 Oct 2003 12:35:16 -0300
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.2051 Shakespeare and the Theory of Knowledge

[4]     From:   Daniel O'Brien <
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        Date:   Saturday, 25 Oct 2003 18:48:22 +0000
        Subj:   Shakespeare and the Theory of Knowledge


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bill Arnold <
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Date:           Wednesday, 22 Oct 2003 06:11:04 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 14.2051 Shakespeare and the Theory of Knowledge
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.2051 Shakespeare and the Theory of Knowledge

Ros King writes, "I hate to be a wet blanket but since this thread
started, I haven't seen a single suggested instance that I find
convincing as *knowledge*.  Viz, in response to Thomas Larque's most
recent mailing...."

Well, I hate to be a "wet blanket" myself, but it's "Viz.," with the
period [ . ] please, inasmuch as it is an abbreviation for "videlicet."

Bill Arnold
http://www.cwru.edu/affil/edis/scholars/arnold.htm

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Thomas Larque <
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Date:           Wednesday, 22 Oct 2003 14:35:51 +0100
Subject: 14.2051 Shakespeare and the Theory of Knowledge
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.2051 Shakespeare and the Theory of Knowledge

Of course, I'm happy for Ros King to disagree with me about what Edmund
might think of himself, but my own interpretation would be that Ros
King's self-confident Edmund with his "smooth and sexy" self-image is a
back-projection of 20th/21st century psychological readings of character
into a Shakespearean play.

Edmund is not a real person, but a literary villain, and like many
literary villains in Shakespeare, it seems that he knows his own
villainy.  Richard III begins his play by declaring "I am determined to
be a villain / and hate the idle pleasures of these days", Edmund shows
a similar reading of his own nature both in his remarks about astrology
(where he heavily implies that being born under the maidenliest star in
the firmament would not have changed him into a chaste pleasant fellow)
and in his comment in the final scene "some good I mean to do, in spite
of my own nature".

Edmund fairly clearly believes, then, that his nature is "evil".  Modern
psychological readings would suggest that he believes in his own bad
nature because he has had false negative images of himself (as "bastard"
born under "rough and lecherous" stars) thrust down his throat since
birth, and has subsequently absorbed these readings, and attempted to
live with them by celebrating and embracing them.  Renaissance readings
of personality - from what I have seen - would more commonly assume that
a bad person was intrinsically and entirely bad, and that Edmund was
simply self-aware in recognising his own villainy.

Of course one of the strengths of Shakespeare is that he is ambiguous
enough that you can easily back-project just about every modern idea
that you care to mention into his plays, and it is also true that a
goodly number of what we now regard as modern ideas were just starting
to be floated in Shakespeare's period, and were potentially available to
him.  However, I would suggest that Ros King's reading is heavily
weighted by modern psychological and philosophical ideas, and that a
reading of Edmund as a truly villainous but self-aware villain would be
more in line with most Renaissance sources, and is thus far more likely
to have been what Shakespeare's original audiences would have seen.

I am not Bill Arnold, however, and have no direct communion with the
spirit of Shakespeare, so I am quite happy to accept that I might be
wrong.  Somebody would need to invent a time machine for us to be
absolutely sure.

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

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Andy Jones <
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Date:           Saturday, 25 Oct 2003 12:35:16 -0300
Subject: 14.2051 Shakespeare and the Theory of Knowledge
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.2051 Shakespeare and the Theory of Knowledge

Ros King <
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 > on Tuesday, 21 Oct 2003 17:47:41 +0100
re: SHK 14.2035 Shakespeare and the Theory of Knowledge tells us:

>And it's a T who actually murders the
>princes!

Surely a D and a F!

(See R3 IViii4)

Andy Jones

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Daniel O'Brien <
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Date:           Saturday, 25 Oct 2003 18:48:22 +0000
Subject:        Shakespeare and the Theory of Knowledge

I would like to thank everyone who has been contributing to this
discussion, and I apologise for not replying to all participants.  In a
week or two I intend to post a summary of the discussion so far, and to
say which of the examples I take to be in the Gettier style.

Thanks again

Dan O'Brien
University of Birmingham, UK

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