By Shankar Raman, Lowell Gallagher
A collection of essays on the ways the senses 'speak' on Shakespeare’s degree. Drawing on ancient phenomenology, technology experiences, gender studies and normal philosophy, the essays offer severe instruments for figuring out Shakespeare’s funding in staging the senses.
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Extra info for Knowing Shakespeare: Senses, Embodiment and Cognition (Palgrave Shakespeare Studies)
For the infinite variety of the world – beggaring, like Cleopatra, all description – had also to be managed, ordered, and brought under control, and “custom” was not the only possible means to that end. Faculty psychology proposed a different model: a regulated chain of interactions linking sensations received from without to the so-called internal senses of common sense, imagination, memory (to follow a typical division adopted by the Aristotelian–Galenic tradition). 163–4). The play attests to the high cost of the slippage from sensitive perception to senseless action.
The resulting concern for control is true not only of the digestive processes Schoenfeldt analyzes but also of cognition. The length of the chain of intermediaries between the physical world and the rational faculties accounts for the fragility of perception within the Renaissance sensorium. Under ideal conditions, the external senses serve the internal senses, which in turn serve the rational powers and carry out instructions from above. But if any one faculty – and especially the imagination – usurps the power of any of the others, or exerts undue influence, the ensuing psychological disorder corrupts the mind’s decision-making abilities, with negative consequences.
Of all the inward wits, imagination was the most likely to pursue its own course through its compelling fictive constructions of experience. According to Wright, “if the imagination be very apprehensiue, it sendeth greater store of spirits to the heart, & maketh greater empression” (1971: 46). The more it engenders strong passions through its errant constructions, the more it destabilizes a person’s inward disposition. Furthermore, because imagination was thought to bind the higher faculties to the external world through the senses, it could easily corrupt the will by presenting it with false information, as in the case of Macbeth’s hallucinations.