Disowning Knowledge in Seven Plays of Shakespeare (Updated by Stanley Cavell

By Stanley Cavell

Reissued with a brand new preface and a brand new essay on Macbeth, this recognized number of essays on Shakespeare's tragedies considers the performs as responses to the predicament of data and the emergence of contemporary skepticism.

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Extra resources for Disowning Knowledge in Seven Plays of Shakespeare (Updated Edition)

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75 Other Renaissance terms also objectify one’s nature – even one’s inner nature – yet are neither abstract nor self-contained. ‘Complexion’, for instance, is a common term for a person’s ‘nature’ and ‘constitution of the body’,76 a visible component of one’s ‘humor’. , what one knows about is the person’s actual physical makeup, the dominant humor or elemental quality in them. , one can be said to be of a ‘jealous complexion’77), but they also entail a wholly different set of assumptions about the person than those associated with abstract interiority.

154). Actually the body is not just a sign of inner qualities in this elegy, but seems to be fused with them. God ‘knows the hearts of all, and can dissect / The smallest fibre of our flesh; he can / Find all our atoms from a point to a span’ (ll. 90 In this sense, then, ‘character’ has a physical referent, not wholly unlike ‘humor’ or ‘complexion’, except that the assumed connection between body and spirit is not medical, but 44 The Interpersonal Idiom symbolic.

A sixteenth-century term for this root sense of sameness is ‘constancy’ – certainly an important idea for Renaissance writers, but not a term that was attributed generally: people were not seen to have ‘constancy’ in the same way that people would later Properties of a ‘Self’: Words and Things, 1580–1690 41 be seen to have ‘identity’. Moreover, ‘constancy’ often implies a contextualized process – the issue is not one of being the same so much as of staying the same in relation to a changing world, and often in relation to a particular other, as in the powerful Renaissance concern with sexual ‘constancy’.

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