Metaphysics is usually associated with that part of the philosophical tradition which asks about 'last things', questions such as: How many substances are there in the world? Which is more fundamental, quantity or quality? Are events prior to things, or do they happen to those things? While he wasn't a philosopher, Shakespeare was obviously interested in 'ultimates' of this sort. Instead of probing these issues with argument, however, he did so with plays. Shakespearean Metaphysics argues for Shakespeare's inclusion within a metaphysical tradition that opposes empiricism and Cartesian dualism. Through close readings of three major plays - The Tempest, King Lear and Twelfth Night - Witmore proposes that Shakespeare's manner of depicting life on stage itself constitutes an 'answer' to metaphysical questions raised by later thinkers as Spinoza, Bergson, and Whitehead. Each of these readings shifts the interpretative frame around the plays in radical ways; taken together they show the limits of our understanding of theatrical play as an 'illusion' generated by the physical circumstances of production.
About the Author
Ewan Fernie is Professor and Chair of Shakespeare Studies at the Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham, UK. He is the author of Shame in Shakespeare, the editor of Spiritual Shakespeares and general editor (with Simon Palfrey) of the Shakespeare Now! series.
Simon Palfrey is a Fellow of Brasenose College, Oxford University. His books include Late Shakespeare: A New World of Words (Oxford, 1997); Shakespeare in Parts (Oxford, 2007), written with Tiffany Stern and awarded the Medieval and Renaissance Drama Society's David Bevington Prize for best new book; Romeo and Juliet (Short Books, 2011); and the novel Dunsinane, written with Ewan Fernie. He is the founding editor (with Fernie) of Continuum's innovative series of 'minigraphs', Shakespeare Now! His new work includes a book on possible worlds in early modern drama and philosophy, and a play inspired by Spenser's Faerie Queen. His book Doing Shakespeare was published by Arden Shakespeare in 2005, reissued 2011.
Table of Contents
General Editors' Preface Acknowledgements 1.Shakespearean Metaphysics and the Drama of Immanence 2.Whitehead and the Final Satisfaction of Twelfth Night 3.Lear's Intensity, Bergson's Divided Kingdom 4. Spinoza and The Tempest: An Island of One Bibliographical Note and Further Reading Index