The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1914  Tuesday, 31 July 2001

From:           Sean Lawrence <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 30 Jul 2001 09:45:38 -0700
Subject: 12.1901 Re: The Tragedy of Claudius
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1901 Re: The Tragedy of Claudius

Professor Drakakis writes,

>As for Sean's 'ethics' versus politics.  Let me say it yet again...his
>ethics IS a politics.  There is no such thing as 'found' knowledge, nor is
>'ethics' a first (i.e. uncontaminated) knowledge.

To begin with, "first" doesn't mean "uncontamined".  To consider
something prior is to say that it could not be exhausted by an anatomy
of its contaminations.  More importantly, the ellision of ethics into
politics is both philosophically naive and unproveable, not to mention
totalizing.  Making the declaration categorical as you are doing here
doesn't make it sophisticated, or provable, or any the less totalizing.
Moreover, this premise leads you into incoherence.  How can one possibly
disapprove of violence--as you to do--on strictly 'political' grounds?
That it isn't sufficiently 'political' (i.e., free of what you would
take to be mystification)?  If you don't first care about other people,
or at least also but equally care about other people, why should you
care about politics?

>But one for Sean to ponder.  On what basis does he claim that Claudius is
>a 'hypocrite'?  Is
>he suggesting that Claudius is always aware of what he has done[?].

No, I'm not.  My suggestion that Claudius is a hypocrite is a response
to your suggestion that he's "demystifying".  It continues, in other
words, the construction of a hypothetical situation.  Claudius could
(hypothetically) be completely, exhaustively politically aware (even
were such a state possible, which it probably isn't) while remaining
completely uninterested in other people, and therefore hopelessly
unethical.  Any amount of knowing--even political demystification, or, a
fortiori, the omniscience of God--is not in itself the same thing as

>I think what Brian and Sean need is a good dose of Brecht.

I think you need to read something else for a change.  I would start
with Stanley Cavell, but would be careful not to omit Emmanuel Levinas.
When you're finished with Levinas, you can look at his respondents in
the French tradition, Derrida and Marion.  For another thinker from a
completely different tradition, whose ideas are also congruent with
these notions, I'd look at Charles Taylor.


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