Roger Peters Copyright © 2005
Charles Darwin, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Stephane Mallarmé and Marcel Duchamp are four philosophic thinkers whose works are distinctive for the logical consistency with which they pursued their respective disciplines. Many other thinkers have had similar thoughts but none have been as rigorous in systematically seeking to articulate and use natural logic over the course of their lives. A study over the last 30 years of their regard for natural logic and their determination to apply its principles has enabled the present insights into the more comprehensive and coherent expression of natural logic in Shakespeare's Sonnets.
A complete familiarisation with the more specialised accomplishments of each of these thinkers provides a broader basis from which to appreciate the achievement of the Sonnets. As they were instrumental in preparing the groundwork for the possibility of understanding the Sonnet philosophy they are also interesting in their own right as leading representatives of aspects of natural logic.
The 'Letter to Thierry de Duve' was begun in 1997 in response to a conversation with Thierry de Duve in Wellington in which I addressed the issue of the erotic as central to Duchamp's achievement . But its original intention was subverted by the burgeoning amount of material and evidence that emerged through closer research into Duchamp's notes, speeches and interviews, as well as further research into Wittgenstein and Darwin. So the 'Letter to Thierry De Duve' became the abstract for the current work.
When I began writing up the evidence for a philosophy in Shake-speares
Sonnets, I decided that more than one volume was required to do justice
to its consistency and comprehensiveness. The first decision was to separate
the material relating to Shakespeare from that relating to the thinkers
whose work enabled me to develop an understanding of the Sonnet
Of the resulting four volumes, the first three are devoted to Shakespeare.
They consider the arrangement of the philosophy of the whole set (Volume
1), the individual sonnets (Volume 2), and the poems and plays (Volume 3).
Volume 4, then, presents the relevant material on thinkers such as Marcel
Duchamp, Stephane Mallarmé, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and Charles Darwin,
and provides a critique of other thinkers who have tried to understand
The role of Duchamp, Mallarmé, Wittgenstein and Darwin in the development
of an understanding capable of revealing the Sonnet philosophy is
considered in Part 1. I studied the four thinkers for twenty-five years before
discovering the Sonnet philosophy in 1995. A combination of Duchamp’s
insight into the logic of myth, Mallarmé’s profound aesthetics, Wittgenstein’s
philosophy of language, and Darwin’s philosophic approach to the biological
enabled me to appreciate Shakespeare’s consistent and comprehensive
The art of Marcel Duchamp is significant because of the four thinkers
he arrived at an understanding of the logic of myth. Because the mythology
of any culture embodies the deepest expression of its origins and values,
Duchamp’s articulation of the logical conditions for any mythology in his
major work The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors,Even, commonly referred
to as the Large Glass, provides the groundwork for relating the contributions
of the other three thinkers. There is a direct correspondence between
the principal elements of the Large Glass and the Sonnets.
After ten years of investigating the Sonnets
it is evident that without an
insight into Duchamp’s achievement an understanding of their mythic logic
would be nigh impossible. The Sonnets have remained impenetrable to traditional
scholarly or literary analysis because it lacks the required insight into
the logic of myth.
In general terms, Part 1 offers another way to configure the Sonnet ideas
presented in differing ways in the first 3 volumes. By presenting the relation
between Duchamp and Shakespeare as a letter to the Duchampian scholar
Thierry de Duve, who makes one of the more philosophical critiques of
Duchamp's readymades, the gap between current scholarship and the ideas
presented in these volumes should become evident.
Part 2 then features ten essays on seminal thinkers who have attempted
to understand Shakespeare’s works but failed. The essays are intended
to provide a variety of entry points into the Sonnet philosophy by first
articulating a thinker’s (or a pair of thinkers) basic contribution to their field,
and then showing why they have been unable to understand Shakespeare’s
The essays on Duchamp and Mallarmé supplement the material in
Part 1. The essays on Thomas Jefferson, Riane Eisler, and George Lakoff
and Mark Johnson, consider thinkers who moved considerably toward
the natural logic of the Sonnets without appreciating the precision of
Shakespeare’s mythic logic. The essays on Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung,
James Joyce and T. S. Eliot, Stephen Booth and Helen Vendler, Germaine
Greer, and Friedrich Nietzsche and Ludwig Wittgenstein, consider
thinkers who have thought deeply about Shakespeare’s works but whose
adherence to aspects of traditional beliefs have prevented them from
understanding the Sonnet logic.
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Roger Peters Copyright © 2005
Introduction: Duchamp to Shakespeare
Chapter 1 Duchamp
Chapter 2 Wittgenstein
Chapter 3 Darwin
Chapter 4 Shakespeare & Back