Nature: In the logic of the Sonnets, Nature includes the world or the
universe and all that is in that world or universe including human beings
and their thoughts and artifacts. For Shakespeare, Nature and life* are one.
The Sonnet philosophy recognises humankind as one of the possibilities
within the realm of Nature. Nature is not dependent on the continued
existence of human beings as a distinct form of life, whereas human beings
are dependant on the existence of Nature. The priority* of Nature over
human nature provides the basis for considering the inherent logic of human
nature. Because humans are a sexual* species, Nature is called the sovereign
mistress* in recognition of the possibility of the derivation of sexual species
from the natural world. The gender distinction is not intended as a definitive
classification of Nature as originally female. The words ‘sovereign
mistress’ are not capitalised in Q. Rather, because the human female is
biologically prior to the human male, the separation of the male element
from an asexual progenitor would have been necessary to establish sexual
difference. So from the perspective of life based on sexual differentiation
Nature is logically feminine*. In the Sonnets the sovereign mistress is prior
to the Mistress* who is prior to the Master Mistress*. The capability of
Nature to contain within it the potential for female and male, and for the
Mistress to similarly contain within herself the possibility of female and male,
is reflected in the numerology* where Nature and the Mistress are represented
as both a unity and its antithesis (as both 1 and 2). Because the Mistress
and Nature are at one, the word Nature does not need to occur in the
Mistress sequence (127 to 154) except in sonnet 127, which acknowledges
the transition from the Master Mistress sonnets. In contrast, the Poet continually
brings the idealistic Master Mistress to task for not respecting the logic
of his natural relationship to the Mistress and the sovereign mistress. In
sonnet 126 the Poet subjects him to a final audit. The consistent* philosophy
of the Sonnets, with Nature as the prior entity and Nature as inherently
female, critiques the belief systems that claim to represent the true state of
the world by instituting a male God* prior to Nature.
Neo-Platonism: Because most commentators do not consider that
Shakespeare had a philosophy of his own they presume he borrowed at will
from the prevailing schools of thought of his day. Because of the popularity
of Neo-Platonism in the sixteenth century it is frequently assumed he held
to some form of Neo-Platonism.
For those who accept that the writings of Shakespeare are not conventionally
Christian*, an alternative has been to imagine he avowed a form of
Neo-Platonism. This has the virtue, for the apologists*, of keeping
Shakespeare within the idealist* fold, so making his work still acceptable to
those of a Christian persuasion. The typical consequence of such wishful
thinking has been the continued acceptance of Malone’s* emendations*, the
denigration of the increase* sonnets, and the promotion of doubt about the
authenticity of the Q ordering. As these volumes show that Shakespeare had
a more consistent and coherent philosophy than the Christian and Platonic,
and as he logically accounts for the excesses of idealism without succumbing
to scepticism or scientific realism, apologists will have to look elsewhere to
find support for their psychologically based systems of thought.
Numbers: The logic of the Sonnets is complemented by a set of numbers
that function to highlight the consistency of the philosophy.
One: The number 1 corresponds to the logical unity evident in Nature*
and the Mistress*. The number of sonnets devoted to each (154 = 1+5+4
= 10 = 1+0 = 1 and 28 = 2+8 = 10 = 1+0 = 1) adds to one by mystic
addition*. The Poet, as someone who appreciates the logical status of
Nature and the logical relationship of female and male, is also a unity
(145 = 1+4+5 = 10 = 1+0 = 1).
Two: The number 2 characterises the logical complexity of Nature* and the
Mistress*. It derives from the division of 154 and 28 by 14 (154 = 14x11;
11 = 1+1 = 2; 28 = 14x2). Nature and the Mistress incorporate unity
and diversity in the logic of their female constitutions.
Eight: The number 8 is used as the unit of musical structure for the whole
set out of the octosyllables of sonnet 145. The music sonnets, 8 and 128,
point to the significance of the natural octave of 8 notes.
Nine: The number 9 is the logical numbering for the youth* (126 =
1+2+6+9) that leaves him one short of the required unity. The Poet’s
argument in sonnets 1 to 126 is designed to convince the youth of the
need to acquire the required one from the Mistress* to gain his unity.
The rival poet, an immature rhymer, also has the number 9.
Ten: The number 10 corresponds to 1 (10 = 1+0 = 1) as another form of
the unity characteristic of Nature* and the Mistress*.
Eleven: The number 11 is another form of 2 that expresses the duality (11
= 1+1 = 2) of Nature*.
Fourteen: The number 14 is the number of the pivotal increase* sonnet.
There are 14 lines in a regular sonnet and the whole set is structured in
multiples of 14 (1, 2, 9, 10, 11) out of sonnet 14. By mystic addition*
14 adds to 5, the symbolic number for humankind. The 5 poetry and
increase* sonnets also reflect this appreciation.
Twenty-eight: The number 28 is the lunar number given to the Mistress* to
accord with her role as the archetypal woman.
One hundred and forty five: The number 145 is a traditionally symbolic
number that adds to a unity. Shakespeare associates the Poet with the
number 145 because the Poet understands the natural logic expressed in
One hundred and fifty four: Shakespeare inverts the order of the numerals of
the Poet’s 145 to reflect the unity and complexity of Nature* as 154.
Numerology: The logical system of the Sonnets is supported by a precise
numerology that conforms to the details of the structural dynamic of the
It was typical of the Renaissance that poetic sets were organised numerologically.
Dante’s Divine Comedy had 100 cantos, which added by mystic
addition to unity (100 = 1+0+0 = 1). Of the sonneteers of Shakespeare’s
day, Sidney, Daniel, Drayton, Spenser, all tried their hand at numbered
systems. Shakespeare elevated the convention to a philosophic level by
numbering his Sonnets so they conformed to the basic elements of his logic.
He also numerologically encrypted the Dedication and other features.
Painting: The Sonnets draw a distinction between painting and false
painting. The youth is said to be by Nature* painted, but he is falsely painted
when dressed up in ideas that deny their basis in natural logic.
In the system of the Sonnets all sensations* are logically subsumed under
the concept of beauty*. Painting, as one of the arts, uses sensations or
beauty* to evoke an emotive response in the viewer. But since the dynamic
of understanding requires a continual interaction between truth* and beauty
there is always an element of thought in a painting. As the ideal can logically
be only a sensation, the notion of ideal beauty is tautological. A painting
representing ideal beauty is logically impossible, as an ideal* painting would
be one in which all is reduced to sensation. Attempts to surpass the bounds
of natural logic create not true beauty but false painting, hence taste. Painting
avoids taste by adhering to the trajectory of natural logic from Nature
through increase to the potentiality of the truth and beauty dynamic in the
Paradigm: In this presentation it has been necessary to distinguish between
the paradigm, or worldview, that has failed to appreciate the philosophy* of
the Sonnets, and the consistent* philosophy of the Sonnets that demonstrates
the inadequacies of such a worldview.
The Platonic*/Christian* paradigm is based on an attitude to human
understanding contrary to natural logic. Priority* under such paradigms is
given to the male over the female, and to the operations of the mind* over
those of the body*. Shakespeare in his Sonnets, and in his other works,
corrects the illogicalities of such systems, prejudicial as they are to the logic
of the natural processes of life*. The plays and poems demonstrate a return
to natural logic does not lessen the mythic* possibilities of expression. They
demonstrate that works can be created at a mythic level consistent with
humanity’s highest aspirations.
Passionate Pilgrim, The: The Passionate Pilgrim is the title of a publication
of 1599 in which most of the sonnets presented were attributed to
Shakespeare, though only a few were actually his. It seems he was much
offended by the presumptuousness of the publisher William Jaggard.
Significantly, Shakespeare revised two of the sonnets from the 1599
publication for the 1609 edition of the Sonnets. The revisions conform to
the heightened sense of logical structure given the Sonnets as he prepared
them for publication. Also of interest is sonnet 99 in the Master Mistress*
sequence, with its 15 lines, which has no discernable numerological*
function in the Sonnet structure. Sonnet 99 can be compared to sonnet 112,
which can be seen as a response by Shakespeare to Robert Greene who
vilified him as an ‘upstart crow’ in 1592. Because sonnet 99 has the same
tone of a wrong redressed it is not unreasonable to presume that it has 15
lines to reflect the publication date of The Passionate Pilgrim in 1599.
Personas: Throughout the Sonnets there is continual interaction between
persons in the world and the personae of the Poet. Persons such as the
Mistress*, Master Mistress*, Poet*, and rival poet* are entities who have a
role to play in the logic of natural processes. Personae are their equivalents
in the dynamic of the mind.
As the Sonnet philosophy is a consistent* philosophy* in which the
processes of understanding have the appropriate logical multiplicity* to
represent the natural world, the relationship between persons in the world
and personae of the mind* is exact. The whole set of Sonnets can be read
equally in terms of persons or personae. Shakespeare codifies this logical
achievement in the Dedication* by making the whole of the Dedication
represent the numerological* relation simultaneously between the complete
dynamic in Nature and the dynamic within the mind of the Poet. The
internal divisions of the Dedication correspond either to the archetypal
persons of sovereign mistress, Mistress, Master Mistress, Poet, etc., or those
entities when they are considered as part of the Poet’s mental constitution.
Philosophy, philosophic, philosophical: It has been a nearly universal
claim that Shakespeare* had no, or only a borrowed, philosophy. By demonstrating
that the Sonnets contain a logically structured philosophy based in
Nature, these volumes reveal why the traditional attempts to understand
them has failed.
When Shakespeare published the Sonnets in 1609, around the time he
was writing Cymbeline, he knew he was giving definitive expression to the
philosophy he had developed for more than 20 years as the philosophy
behind all his plays and poems. Not only does the philosophy correct the
inconsistencies of previous philosophical systems, it elevates the philosophical
enterprise onto a logical plane above the psychological* confusions that
bedevil Platonism* and beliefs based in biblical mythology. Shakespeare
demonstrates in his poems and plays that credibility at a mythic level of
expression can be achieved by adhering to a consistent philosophy. The
Sonnet philosophy is not the basis for a system of belief, as is the case with
apologetic philosophies, but is the mythic expression of the natural processes
of life* that require no belief. Throughout the four volumes a distinction is
drawn between philosophic and philosophical. The philosophic (compare
mythic*) in these volumes refers to an approach to philosophy typified by
Ludwig Wittgenstein* and exemplified by Shakespeare that sets out the
logical conditions for human understanding within Nature. The philosophical
refers to the use of formal logical procedures to rationalise a preexisting
set of beliefs as in apologetics* or to separate psychological* attitudes
from their relationship to Nature.
Phoenix and the Turtle, The: The Phoenix and the Turtle is a poem in 67 lines,
published in 1601 with poems by others, that exhibits many of the traits of
Shakespeare’s Sonnet philosophy*.
Interpreted in most quarters as a Platonic* allegory, The Phoenix and the
Turtle is written for the opposite intent. As with all Shakespeare’s works, the
poem demonstrates the limitations of idealism* and provides the basis for
consistent understanding and expression. It does this in the language of the
Sonnets, which in 1601 were in some form of preparation before publication
in 1609. Mention of posterity*, and truth* and beauty*, and the play on
number relationships, are in keeping with the philosophic concerns of the
Sonnets. The perplexity commentators exhibit over this short poem is
symptomatic of the persistent prejudice brought to bear on Shakespeare’s
works over the last 400 years.
Platonism: When Plato insisted that the ideal* form of any object was
prior to its manifestation in reality he gave support to a system of thought
at odds with natural logic.
Contrary to a traditional view of the Sonnets, the youth* is not the representative
of a Platonic ideal to which the Poet* aspires. In the sequence to
the Master Mistress* Shakespeare examines the nature of idealism*. The Poet
acknowledges the logical status of the ideal as a possibility that arises in the
dynamic of the mind*, but he critiques the illogical implications when the
ideal is given priority over natural types in Platonic thought. While the older
Poet esteems the propensities of youth, including his tendency to overly
idealise mind-based ideas, he warns him of the consequences of giving the
ideal priority over the natural world. Shakespeare’s consistent philosophy
contextualises the psychological priorities of Platonism within natural logic.
By accepting the priority of Nature, by acknowledging the logical
requirement to increase, and by deriving a consistent understanding of truth*
and beauty*, Shakespeare takes to a logical conclusion the more natural
philosophy of Plato’s pupil, Aristotle*.
Plays: From the evidence of Shakespeare’s Sonnets and his plays and poems,
he arrived the basic principles of his philosophy* in the 1580s. At the time
he was a young man influenced by the maturity of Anne Hathaway*, his
wife, and the mother of his children. He began to articulate aspects of the
philosophy in his early poems and plays before he decided to give it a definitive
formulation in the Sonnets.
The philosophy is such a basic and profoundly simple understanding of
the logic of life* that once he had removed the religious prejudices of his
early experiences he would not have wavered in his adherence to it and in
his expression of it over the course of his life. Not only is it evident as the
basis for his early poems, Venus and Adonis, and Lucrece, it is also manifest
in all his early plays, especially Love’s Labour’s Lost. It is the foundation upon
which he created his greatest tragedies, with their intensely mythic*
expression of the dynamic of life in which every character has an undeniable
reality and every word resonates with sense and purpose. His last plays
continue as an expression of his mature understanding of the logical relation
of myth and reality.
Poet: The Poet of the Sonnets understands the logical relation between the
Mistress* and the Master Mistress* and their logical relation to Nature*, and
is capable of giving the complete dynamic consistent* mythic* expression.
The Poet is mentioned by name six times in the Master Mistress
sequence, but not in the Mistress sequence. He is appropriately introduced
as the Poet in sonnet 17 of the poetry and increase* group and then in three
sonnets that establish his relation to the rival poets* (32, 79, and 83). But
the litany of first person references throughout both sequences more than
compensates for the few mentions. The Poet is first introduced in the form
of I, me, and my, in sonnet 10. Significantly, this is after sonnet 9 of the
increase sonnets where he presents the youth* with the logical conditions
for love*. The Poet not only appreciates the logical relation between the
Mistress and the Master Mistress but also the logical relation between the
feminine and masculine personae internal to his own philosophic makeup.
He explores both possibilities concurrently throughout both sequences. The
Poet’s relation to Nature is expressed in his numerological* value of 145.
While Nature as 154 is characterised by a more complex arrangement of
the same numerals, the Poet’s number 145 expresses his more linear relation
to Nature’s complexity. His understanding gives him a simpler sense of unity
than that of Nature or the Mistress. Although his poetry is mythic*, it cannot
‘contain’ or reproduce the sexual basis of life.
Poetry and Increase: After establishing of the priority* of increase* over
truth* and beauty* in sonnets 1 to 14, and before considering the logical
dynamic of truth and beauty in sonnets 20 to 154, the Poet takes account
of his role as poet/philosopher. The 5 sonnets (15 to 19) examine the logical
relation between increase and poetry.
While increase is prior to poetry, sonnets 15 to 19 recognise that it is
through the medium of poetry that the Poet is able to convey his philosophy
based in Nature, the sexual dynamic and increase. In sonnets 15 and 16 he
first reaffirms the priority of increase and then introduces the possibility of
poetry. Then, because increase provides the logical basis for any form of
expression, in sonnets 17and 18 he demonstrates the way in which his
writing conforms to the logical preconditions. Sonnet 18 achieves its exceptional
lyrical force because it is a seamless demonstration of the conjunction
of the logic of increase with the possibility of the Poet’s expression. Sonnet
19 then states the logical condition for immortality* through poetry.
Whereas increase allows for the life of a person to persist in human form,
poetry only allows the youth to persist in the way he is depicted.
Politics: Because the Sonnet philosophy presents Shakespeare’s understanding
of humankind’s logical relation to the world, it provides the philosophic
underpinning for the exploration of political and social issues in the
The presentation of the truth* and beauty* dynamic in the Sonnets,
which is based on the logic of the sexual* dynamic in Nature*, provides
Shakespeare* with a sound systematic philosophy. He applies the philosophy
in the plays* to ensure the judgments* of his characters are assessed against
the background of natural logic. The philosophy of the Sonnets provides a
constitutional check on social and political circumstances. In his historybased
plays Shakespeare explores the implications of the truth and beauty
dynamic for characters of various political and religious persuasions. Because
his philosophy underlies all their activities he is able to demonstrate appropriate
solutions to their dilemmas. When he based his social and political
situations on the writings of other playwrights he subjected their efforts to
the same rigorous philosophic critique. Ironically, because his philosophy
has not been recognised in the last 400 years, it is commonly thought he
was merely reiterating Elizabethan and Jacobean political commonplaces.
Posterity: Posterity is used in the poems and plays to convey the sense of
the persistence of humankind into the future because, without increase*,
humankind would not persist. The word store* is used with a meaning
similar to posterity.
Priority: The Sonnet logic establishes four basic priorities for consistency*
in the dynamic of understanding.
Firstly, Nature* the sovereign mistress* is logically prior to the
sexual*possibility. The whole set of 154 sonnets as Nature is prior to the
division of the set into the Mistress*and Master Mistress*sequences. The
second priority is the priority of the female over the male, where the 28
Mistress sonnets give her a unity not inherent in the 126 sonnets to the
Master Mistress. The third priority is the logical requirement that the Master
Mistress return to the Mistress for the persistence of humankind. The 14
increase* sonnets present the pre-condition. The fourth priority is the
priority of increase over the possibility of understanding or truth* and
beauty*. The 5 poetry and increase sonnets provide the bridge between the
increase sonnets and the presentation of the truth and beauty dynamic in
sonnets 20 to 154. The logical priorities determine the basic structure of
the Sonnets. When the Sonnet priorities are inverted, as they are in most biblically
based beliefs, contradiction abounds.
Psychology: Because commentators have not fathomed the natural logic
of Shakespeare’s Sonnet philosophy, many compensate by reducing the
Sonnets to a psychological drama.
These volumes demonstrate that Shakespeare’s Sonnets present a consistent
and coherent philosophy. Any psychological considerations are secondary or
irrelevant to the articulation of natural logic in the basic structure of the
whole set. And because Shakespeare articulates the logical conditions for any
mythological expression he avoids the psychological ramifications of beliefs
that take mythologies literally. Because the Sonnet philosophy is logically
sound it critiques the inadequacies of the philosophical understandings that
have failed to understand its natural logic. Shakespeare’s profound philosophy
reveals the psychological motives behind all forms of apologetic* philosophy.
From his sound philosophic base Shakespeare created characters of great
psychological depth and credibility in the plays. Psychology in its various
forms has been impotent to reveal the depth in Shakespeare’s work. (See the
essay on Freud and Jung in Volume 4.)
Q: The 80-page volume of Shake-speares Sonnets and A Lover’s Complaint
published in 1609 by Shakespeare is known as Q, which stands for quarto.
The word quarto relates to the number of times the printed sheet is
folded. In a folio edition the sheet is folded in half to give 2 leaves, and in
a quarto edition the sheet is folded again to give 4 leaves.
Quatrains: In a regular sonnet of 14 lines, the lines are usually divided
into 3 stanzas of four lines followed by a couplet of two lines. The four line
stanzas are called quatrains.
Realism: When Ted Hughes* wrote about the ‘mythical*’ depth of
Shakespeare’s works in Shakespeare and the Goddess of Complete Being he made
a telling decision to separate the ‘mythical’ from the ‘realism’ in the plays*.
The philosophy of Shakespeare is a complete and consistent* philosophy
that articulates the logical conditions for any mythic expression. The Sonnet
philosophy shows how to relate mythic expression to the dynamic of
everyday life within Nature*. As it presents the logical processes of thought
at the mythic level it is not prejudiced or biased toward any one way of seeing
the world. Shakespeare’s ability to express a mythic logic not divorced from
the ‘realism’ of the world makes his plays universal and credible. So when
Hughes removes the ‘realism’ from the plays, believing it would be possible
to penetrate their mythical heart, he reveals his misunderstanding of the
natural logic on which the plays are based. His confused statements about
the meaning of the Sonnets are symptomatic of the difficulty he creates for
Rival poet: The rival poet represents a stage in development that is inferior
to the Poet’s consistent understanding and expression. The Poet* warns the
Master Mistress* that if he does not appreciate the natural logic of the Sonnets
he will forever be like a rival poet.
The 9 rival poet sonnets (78 to 86), positioned at the beginning of the
second half of the set, serve as a reminder to the youth of the consequences
of his unwillingness to grasp the logic of the Poet’s argument. An early
distinction is drawn in sonnet 32 between the inadequacy of mere poetic
skills, such as rhyming and style, and the philosophy based in the logic of
love* expressed by the Poet in his Sonnets. In the 9 rival poet sonnets the
Poet shows that, like the youth, the rival lacks a component of understanding.
The youth requires an additional Muse* to add to the 9 traditional
Muses of poetic inspiration. Ironically, the rival’s inadequacy is reflected in
his plagiaristic attitude to the youth’s beauty. As Shakespeare is the only Poet
to articulate a consistent philosophy, he effectively challenges all poets and
philosophers to accept the logical conditions for philosophic and poetic
Romeo and Juliet: Romeo and Juliet, written around 1594/95, contains a
number of sonnets and phrases that link it closely to ideas Shakespeare
developed and then published in Q.
Romeo and Juliet presents the drama of two warring families whose hate
is institutionalised in the social construct of marriage. When Romeo and
Juliet consummate their natural love for each other, their tragic deaths are
a direct consequence of their parents abrogation of the logic of increase in
Nature. The misunderstandings and injustices wrought by the other protagonists
reflect the contradictions that result from the inversion of the dynamic
of truth and beauty. Juliet’s age, at near 14, is in keeping with the Sonnet
structure organised around the 14 increase sonnets and the pivotal role of
Rose: The Rose is the symbol for beauty* throughout the Sonnets. The
beauteous flower of the Rose is the archetype for all idealised sensations*,
while the canker of the Rose serves to remind the idealising youth that
logically beauty entails all possible sensations.
The significance of the Rose is heralded by its inclusion alongside the
word beauty in the first sonnet. It is capitalised throughout the set along
with the Muse*, the symbol for truth*. The double nature of the Rose, with
its thorns, hidden canker*, and shadow, and its anagrammatic Eros, also
symbolises the capacity for beauty or sensations to be differentiated or named
and so become part of the truth dynamic.
Saying: The logic of the Sonnets draws a distinction between saying and
seeing*. Truth* is identified with saying, and beauty* with seeing.
In the Sonnets the possibility of being named and consequently the possibility
of saying are identified explicitly with the processes of language,
thought*, argument*, verse*, etc. Saying is truth because the determination
between right and wrong occurs in the process of saying. Beauty or sensations*
can only give a sense of what is best or worst but not articulate the
logical distinction as a form of knowledge. In the Mistress sequence, after
beauty is considered in sonnets 127 to 137, sonnet 137 provides the
transition between seeing and saying, and leads to a consideration of truth
in sonnets 138 to 152. Notably, in sonnet 138 the Mistress says something
for the first time. Shakespeare characterises saying as truth by referring to
the most decided form of saying in the process of swearing an oath or vow
or of committing perjury (see particularly sonnets 138 and 152).
Science: The dynamic of truth* and beauty* or ethics* and aesthetics*
logically accounts for all forms of thought* and language and all types of
sensations*. This means that science, as a rational activity based on language,
is logically a form of ethics.
The seeking after knowledge*, through the judgment* between true and
false or right and wrong that typifies science, associates science logically with
dynamic of ethics*. So logically the phrase ‘science of ethics’ becomes a
tautology* ‘ethics of ethics’ if science attempts to investigate the logic of
ethics. While science is characterised by its reliance on the dynamic of truth
or language-based investigations, it cannot avoid the logic of sensations in
its observations, intuitions* and estimations. As in the logical relation
between truth and beauty, science is logically subject to the influence of
sensations. Intuition and art impinge on scientific investigations because the
logic of truth and beauty, derived from the sexual* process out of Nature*
and the increase* dynamic, is an inherent part of human nature and the
mythic expression of the relation between humankind and Nature. Over
the last few millennia, apologetic* philosophy has attempted to justify the
contradictions between the discoveries of science and biblical beliefs.
Seeing: The Sonnets take the sensory process of seeing as the archetypal
form of sensation* or beauty*. Seeing characterises both the perceptions in
the mind* from external sensations, and the sense of intuition* or seeing
arising from sensations within the mind.
Throughout the Sonnets the eyes play a logical role in the dynamic of
understanding. The eyes* are identified in sonnet 14 as the logical source
of truth* and beauty. In the first ten Mistress sonnets, and particularly in
sonnet 130, the Mistress is sensed through all the five senses. Then in sonnet
137 the process of seeing is explicitly identified with beauty and truth is
identified with saying. In keeping with the focus on sensation or beauty,
Shakespeare gives the Mistress nothing to say until sonnet 138, which uses
the word truth twice. By not appreciating the logical role of seeing
throughout the Sonnets commentators have missed a vital clue to the Sonnet
logic, and the blindness has led to some of the more telling emendations*.
Many of the ‘their/thy’ emendations, introduced out of ignorance by
Malone*, trivialise the logic of the ‘eyes’ seeing.
Sensations: There are two traditionally recognised modes of understanding,
ideas* and sensations, or ethics* and aesthetics*. In the Sonnets they
are referred to as truth* and beauty*.
In the logical precision of the Sonnets, the unity of Nature*, with its
potential to divide into female and male, and the requirement that female
and male reunite, leads to the possibility of beauty or sensations and its logical
complement, ‘saying*’ or truth. Shakespeare understands sensations or
aesthetics as any form of perception unmediated by thought*. In the Sonnets,
‘seeing*’ is taken as the archetypal form of sensation. It covers all instances
of sensory awareness including sensations or intuitions* (seeing as knowing)
generated in the mind* as a product of thought and language. The logic of
the Sonnets draws no qualitative distinction between base sensations or
sublime sensations. Because Shakespeare avoids the illogical understanding
of aesthetics as a preferred form of sensation or taste (see Kant*) his writings
are not constrained by particular tastes or fashions.
Sexual: The Sonnets draw a clear distinction between the sexual and the
erotic*. The structure of the whole set, with its two parts, and the 14
increase* sonnets at the beginning of the set, establish the sexual as a given
for the eroticism in the remaining Sonnets.
The sexual is the biological or the procreative dynamic. The overarching
structure of the whole set presents the sexual relationship of the female and
male out of Nature as fundamental to the possibility of humankind. The
increase sonnets present the logical requirement that the two sexes must
recombine for the continuation of the species. The sexual given is prior to
the possibility of human understanding. By articulating the logical conditions
of human life in the increase sonnets, the Poet acknowledges their
importance for the appreciation of the dynamic of truth* and beauty*
presented in the remaining sonnets. The sexual dynamic has the required
logical multiplicity* to account for the operations of the mind. The sexual
is distinguished from the erotic, as the dynamic of the mind*, in that no
amount of eroticism will produce a child. Logically, all activity of the mind
is erotic because the mind functions as a consequence of the logic of the
Shakespeare, William: The philosophy so brilliantly articulated in the
Sonnets as the philosophy behind all the poems and plays, could only have
been written by William Shakespeare from Stratford-upon-Avon, husband
to Anne Hathaway.
The evidence and arguments presented here establish Shakespeare as the
only person capable of articulating the philosophy of the Sonnets. None of
his contemporaries show evidence of a similarly articulated philosophy in
their work. Because Shakespeare’s philosophy has not been understood in
400 years, a diversionary industry has arisen based on speculations as to his
true identity and theories about the provenance and authenticity of his work.
Back to Top
Roger Peters Copyright © 2005