MOTTO: Know you not that I must be about my mother's business

  • The explanation of key terms in the Glossary
    contextualises each word within the logic of
    the Sonnet philosophy.


    The Institute for the Quaternary Evolution in Shakespearen Thought
    The Quaternary Institute
    Quaternary Institute & Quaternary Imprint



    Roger Peters Copyright © 2005



    Canker: In the Sonnets, the image of the Rose*, as the symbol of beauty*, is associated with its canker, thorn, or ‘shadow’.
          The singular beauty of the Rose in flower is used to characterise the idealised beauty of the youth*. The logical complement of the ideal*, the canker in the Rose, is used to characterise its negative or contrary underbelly. The distinction between the Rose with its ‘hidden’ canker, and the Rose with its exposed canker, captures the logical status of the ideal as an intense sensation that temporarily obscures its logical antithesis. By associating the Rose with the sensation of beauty and canker, Shakespeare is able to show how sensations as singular effects lead logically to the possibility the relation of ideas in the expression of a thought*. At one moment the singular sensation of beauty is evident, at the next the previously hidden canker in the Rose suggests the division of consciousness into the distinctions of thought. The dynamic captures something of the perpetual process in the mind*, back and forth between the two possibilities of understanding, sensations and ideas or beauty and truth.

    Christianity: Shakespeare* lived at a time when the illogical belief in the priority of a male God over Nature* had led to another major schism in Bible based beliefs, this time between Catholics and Protestants, and a consequent increase in sectarian violence.
          From perspective of Shakespeare’s Nature based philosophy, the contradictions in male-based Christianity that led to the Reformation were typified in England by Henry VIII’s conflict with Rome, and were exacerbated by his divorce and even execution of some of his wives for the sake of male primogeniture. When Henry’s Catholic daughter Mary took the throne, after the death of his son Edward, the sectarian killing intensified. It was not until the reign of Henry’s daughter by Anne Bullen, Elizabeth 1, that a monarch was prepared to stem the sectarian violence by removing those determined to restore England to the Papacy and attempting to reconcile the two Churches within the State. As Shakespeare was born and matured in the reign of Elizabeth, the contradiction* of opposing Christian faiths both claiming the ear of the male God and the uneasy peace under a female Queen may have influenced his enquiring mind toward the early development of a consistent* Nature based philosophy. Although at least some of his family was Catholic, his early grasp of natural logic and common sense would have allowed him to develop a system of thought based on the priority of the female over the male out of Nature. As a poet and playwright, the realisation allowed him to restore consistency to the mythic* level of expression distorted in the male-based Bible. The philosophy of the Sonnets heightens the depth of understanding implicit in the Christian mythology by avoiding the contradictions that have seen Christianity become little more than recourse for psychological* comfort and a source of ideological violence. It could be said that Shakespeare’s intent was to restore to the believers in Christianity their birthright of a consistent philosophy by showing that the erotic logic of all mythologies was derived from human understanding within Nature.

    Church: Throughout the Sonnets there are barely concealed references to the inconsistencies and iniquities of the Church of Shakespeare’s day.
          Shakespeare explores the issues even more explicitly in the plays such as Henry VIII. He contrasts the simple faith of many of his characters with the excesses (or ‘expense’, sonnet 129) that result when religions assume power under illogical dogmas that prioritise a male God over the female and Nature.

    Composition: The Sonnets, as published in Q in 1609, probably took form over a period of 20 years.
          The evidence available in the plays of the early 1590s, in the long poems Venus and Adonis of 1593 and Lucrece of 1594, and in the Phoenix and Turtle* of 1601, suggests that by the late 1580s Shakespeare had already formulated the basics of the philosophy articulated in the Sonnets of 1609. Venus and Adonis uses the increase argument out of Nature, Love’s Labour’s Lost* and Romeo and Juliet* incorporate sonnets that paraphrase crucial sonnets in Q such as sonnet 14, and The Phoenix and the Turtle shows a sophisticated understanding of Shakespeare’s sense of number, and of the relationship between increase and the truth* and beauty* dynamic. The longer poems particularly are early attempts to give expression to his Nature based philosophy. The idea of incorporating the philosophy in a set of sonnets was probably a response to the vogue in sonnet sequences that reached its pitch in the mid-1590s. It is not difficult to imagine that Shakespeare systematically structured his set over the next 15 years until he published the definitive form in 1609. Internal evidence suggests that sonnets such as 20, 38, 76, 99, 101, 126, 135, 136, 145, 153, and 154, were reworked or added fresh late in the process when the structuring and the numbering of the set was determined. All the internal evidence, and the absence of evidence to prove otherwise, point to Shakespeare’s definite and deliberate involvement in the preparation of the set over the 15-year period and in the publication of the complete set (with A Lover’s Complaint) in 1609.

    Consistency: Because the philosophy of Shakespeare’s Sonnets exhibits the correct logical multiplicity* between Nature* and the mind* it is a consistent philosophy.
          In the logical structure of the Sonnets, Nature and the sexual* dynamic are logically prior to the dynamic of truth* and beauty* or the two modes of understanding. By basing his philosophy in Nature and the sexual dynamic, or the logical conditions for sexual persistence, Shakespeare is able to characterise the dynamic of the mind as erotic* or non-sexual. The logical functions of the mind are derived from the natural processes basic to human existence. In one move Shakespeare presents a logical system in which the dynamic of the mind has the same multiplicity as the physical dynamic evident in Nature, and which accounts for the logic of eroticism that accompanies the highest form of human expression, the mythic*. Traditional male-based mythologies (Judaic, Christian, or Islamic) conceal their inconsistencies, such as the prioritisation of the male over the female, behind the strictures of faith and dogma. Such mythologies, with their covert eroticism, have been an unchallenged given in the long history of Western apologetics*. By showing that the logical conditions for life* are consistent with any mythic expression, Shakespeare is able to derive the logical conditions for consistent mythic expression. The level of consistency, in which the logic of Nature and the mind is represented without contradiction*, is unprecedented in philosophy. Shakespeare’s philosophy becomes the standard by which to assess the inconsistencies of other systems of thought such as Platonism* and Christianity*.

    Content: The word content has a specific meaning in the Sonnets. Because the content of Shakespeare’s philosophy presents the logical relation between Nature and the human mind*, the Sonnets can express the content, but the content is not conditional upon the continued existence of the Sonnets.
          The content of the Sonnets, which present the logic of Nature*, necessarily persists beyond the Poet’s expression of it in poetic form. The significance of the word content is indicated by its appearance in the first sonnet. In a play on the various meanings of the word, the Poet indicates the youth* will only be content in his mind when the physical content of his body*, or capacity for increase*, aligns his understanding with the logic of the larger content of Nature. Because the Poet is at one with Nature, he suggests the youth’s happiness lies in a willingness to see the logical relation between Nature, increase, and the possibilities of the mind. The Poet expresses the logical content of the world in his philosophic poetry. Understanding the status of the Sonnet content is critical for an appreciation of the Poet’s ambition for his verse*. For Shakespeare, poetry in the form of Sonnets is the vehicle for the content. The possibility of content, with its logical connection to Nature and increase, is not dependent on any particular instance of the written word or book of verse. This follows from the priority* of increase over truth and beauty in sonnet 14. Sonnet 55 makes a clear distinction between the logical priority of what the Sonnet ‘contents’ say or convey, and the physical survival of the Sonnets as a book that might immortalise the youth. The content of the Poet’s verse outlives marble and monuments, and hence a mere book. Only the ‘living record’ of the youth’s memory through increase has abiding value for the Poet. This understanding of content is apparent in other sonnets, such as 74, where it is what the poetry ‘contains’ that matters, not the traditional expectation of limited immortality* through the memory of an individual being inscribed in a book of verse.

    Contradiction: Shakespeare’s natural logic incorporates contradiction as a function of the truth* dynamic or the logical dynamic of language.
          Shakespeare revels in the contradictions generated by the truth dimension of the truth and beauty* dynamic. By basing his philosophy in Nature* with its associated sexual* dynamic, and the derivation of truth and beauty* from the sexual dynamic, he appreciates that contradiction is a possibility inherent in the logic of truth or language. Language involves the perpetual interplay between right and wrong, true and false. Unlike idealists Shakespeare does not seek to remove contradiction from language. He knows that attempts to simplify language have illogical consequences. By acknowledging the logical source of the possibility of contradiction in the sexual dynamic in Nature, where contrary outcomes are legion, he uses contradiction without compromising the dynamic of truth and beauty. In his plays, particularly, he generates and exploits contradiction. His prolific creation of syntactically challenging neologisms and his witty use of twins and cross-dressing are a natural consequence of his appreciation that, without an acknowledgment of its basis in natural logic, the idealisation of single words such as God leads inevitably to contradiction.


    Daniel, Samuel: When Shakespeare* published his Sonnets in 1609 the height of fashion for sonnet sequences was past. Typical of such sequences were Daniel’s 55 sonnets to Delia. Significantly, Daniel continued to rework his sequence from the early 1590s until 1623.
          The 55 sonnets, in the 1594 edition of Delia, add numerologically to a unity (55 = 5+5 = 10 = 1+0 = 1). Shakespeare extended the topical idea of a numbered sequence addressed to a female friend to create his numerologically consistent set with its logical presentation of the female and male dynamic out of Nature. Shakespeare most likely appreciated Daniel’s insistence that the content of the poetry was pre-eminent over the poetry itself. Shakespeare also lifts Daniel’s more romantic concerns to a mythic* level by deepening the function of the imagery of the heart* and eyes* and other symbolic features explored by Daniel.

    Dark Nature: Nature*, incorporating such concepts as the universe or the world, is the principal entity in Shakespeare’s philosophy. Nature is bounteous, wise, fair, or good, etc., or cruel, black, evil, villainous, or base. In the Sonnets and plays, the darker side of Nature balances out the tendency to privilege the good in Nature.
           Human beings are part of Nature and experience Nature at various times in favourable or unfavourable terms. The notion of God*, as it has developed over time, has become associated with the favourable or the good in Nature. The contradiction of separating good from evil, or the darker side of Nature, is inherent in the idea of a good God. Shakespeare avoids the contradiction in this form of God with his acceptance of the priority of Nature over the possibility of a concept of God. Nature embodies both the favourable and unfavourable as perceived by the human being. Dark Nature characterises those aspects of Nature perceived at any one time as being unfavourable to human life. For the Poet, the Mistress* embodies both possibilities. Her femaleness aligns her directly with Nature. In the Mistress the Poet faces reality and his maturity. By contrast, the Master Mistress* tends to avoid the darker side of Nature in favour of the idealised good. He will achieve maturity only if he reconciles his youthful idealism with Nature and the Mistress.

    Darwin, Charles: Darwin restored the logical relation between human beings and Nature by demonstrating the evolutionary relation of the human being to other species and the rest of Nature.
          In The Descent of Man Darwin addresses the logical requirement that sexual selection is crucial for human persistence and human understanding. He argues that the human mind with its ‘moral sense’ evolved from the ‘mental powers’ of other species. Darwin accomplished for the functions of the body what Shakespeare had logically articulated for the body/mind relationship 250 years before. Darwin, though, spent most of his life doing empirical research, so only briefly addresses the logical consequences for human understanding that Shakespeare articulates in the Sonnets. Shakespeare’s logical comprehensiveness encompasses the empirical rigour of Darwin’s approach.

    Death: In Shakespeare’s philosophy death is an event in the continuum of life*.
           For any individual, the period from birth to death occurs in the continuum of life. The conventional characterisation of an individual’s period of existence as the time between ‘life and death’ leads to inconsistencies, which arise if the period of any one human being’s existence, with death being the supposed end of life, constitutes what is meant by ‘life’. In the Sonnets, the youth has to come to terms with the logical possibilities. Either he accepts the logic of increase, and so the possibility of the continuation of his life through his offspring, or he accepts the re-assimilation of his life at death into Nature*. The possibility of direct re-assimilation to Nature without increase is ironically the type of immortality given priority in Bible-based religions that consider increase an ‘original sin’ or make celibacy or male priority a pre-condition for authority.

    Dedication: Shakespeare arranged the Dedication of his Sonnets to provide a cryptic representation of the principal numerological* relationships of the whole set.
          While volumes have been written about the possible meaning of the Dedication, no one has satisfactorily explained its wording. But Shakespeare adapted a typical form of dedication from the period to suit his philosophic ends. He arranged his Dedication to cryptically represent the Sonnet logic, and indicated its deeper purpose by giving its surface a semblance of meaning to distract biographical adventurers. This reading, which reveals the numerological pattern for the Sonnets, shows that the 28 dots in the body of the Dedication, the total number of letters (145), the initials T. T. (126), the initials Mr. W. H.* (1 and 9), are arranged precisely to echo the structural pattern of the whole set.

    Doom: Significantly the word doom is introduced in the last line of the increase* sonnets. If the youth* fails to increase then logically, when he dies, truth* and beauty* will also die, or meet their ‘doom and date’.
          The logic of the Sonnets is based on the relationship between the sexual* possibility in Nature*, the increase dynamic, and the possibility of truth and beauty. If the youth does not appreciate the logical significance of increase in Nature, his understanding of truth and beauty remains inconsistent. His understanding of the world and any attempt to give it expression would be logically void, effectively rendering them as if dead. The logical meaning given to the word doom by Shakespeare is distinct from the psychological expectation of doom associated with the Christian Judgment Day. The ‘edge of doom’ in sonnet 116, for instance, is not a reference to a Judgment Day. It is the logical terminus of the options for the youth, whose inconsistent appreciation of the function of increase needs to be corrected if his understanding is not to remain in contradiction with Nature.

    Drayton, Michael: Drayton first published his sonnet set in 1594. He continued to revise it until 1621.
          Drayton produced a numbered set of 63 sonnets. His set has the numerological sum of 9 (63 = 6+3 = 9), which becomes a unity when the unnumbered ‘sonnet to the reader’ is added. (9+1 = 10 = 1+0 = 1). His numerological system is a very simple form of the logically exact numbering Shakespeare uses in the Sonnets. A number of ideas employed by Drayton appear in the Sonnets, where Shakespeare elevates them beyond mere conceits to achieve a philosophic content*.

    Duchamp, Marcel: The work of 20th century French artist Marcel Duchamp demonstrates a mythic understanding of aesthetics* consistent with Shakespeare’s understanding of the logic of aesthetics or beauty*.
          Duchamp arrived at a consistent mythic* expression of the logical conditions for art in his major work The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors,Even. All Duchamp’s work explores the singularity of sensations. He countered the possibility of his artwork becoming an expression of taste by continually reducing matters of choice to their sensory or aesthetic basis. He appreciated that the aesthetic is logically any form of sensation whether derived from the external senses or experienced as a sublime sensation of the mind. As a deeply philosophic artist he was able to isolate the logical conditions for consistent aesthetic expression. His insight into the logic of aesthetics matches that of Shakespeare. But unlike Shakespeare, Duchamp does not take account of the logical relationship of aesthetics and ethics*. Throughout his life he showed a disinterest in ethics or the dynamic of choice through language. Duchamp’s understanding of the logical relation between the sexual* and the erotic*, though, is consistent with that of the Sonnets. The erotic dynamic of his mythic expression, which is based on the sexual as a given, gives priority to the female over the male. Like Shakespeare, Duchamp demonstrates that the traditional priority accorded to the male in belief systems based on traditional mythologies is contrary to natural logic. A further consequence of Duchamp’s consistent aesthetics is the precise numerological* relationship in The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even. The whole work represents the female as a unity, the Bride of the top half is a unity, with 9 males or Bachelors in the lower half. The numbering corresponds to the basic mythic numbering of the Sonnets.


    Eliot T.S.: Eliot reckoned Shakespeare* had no moral system and at best a ragbag philosophy*.
          That Eliot could be so wrong is attributable to his dependency on the Christian paradigm, which is inconsistent and inadequate before the Sonnets and plays of Shakespeare.

    Emendations: Other than for a handful of genuine compositors’ errors, the 50 or more changes of meaning introduced into editions of the Sonnets by editors reflect their inability to understand the Sonnet philosophy.
           The Reverend Edmund Malone* began the process of systematically altering the meanings of words (not just spellings) in 1790 because, from his Christian* perspective, the offending words appeared to have no effective meaning in the original. Successive editors, who have also lacked an understanding of the Sonnet philosophy, have reduced or augmented Malone’s changes according to their fancy. The situation worsened in the late twentieth century when over zealous scholarship contrived to find definitive evidence to put the blame for the supposed mistakes on the innocent compositors of the 1609 edition rather than address the inadequate understanding of the editors. Because the perpetrators claim to be restoring Shakespeare’s original meaning, their interference with the original amounts to a literary injustice. The offending editors take no account of the inappropriateness of applying their own systems of belief or expectations.

    Erotics: Shakespeare draws a clear distinction between the sexual* and the erotic.
           The sexual involves the bodily process of increase* as the biological union of the female and male to produce offspring. The erotic involves desires or any expression derived from the mind. Logically the erotic, on its own, cannot produce a child. No amount of thought, expression, or human artifact can produce a child. Duchamp characterises the whole of his output as erotic because he appreciates the logical distinction between the sexual and the erotic. Shakespeare’s Sonnets are divided into sexual (increase) and erotic (truth* and beauty*) sequences by the poetry and increase group.

    Eros: The Rose*, which occurs throughout the Sonnets, can be read as an anagram for Eros, the God of love.
           The word Eros corresponds to the idea of a thorn or canker* concealed in the ideal beauty of the Rose. The possibility allows the Rose to be both a conventional symbol of ideal beauty* and a symbol for erotic* desire. The logical effect of the sexual dynamic on the mind is prior to the possibility of ideal beauty generated in the mind.

    Ethics: In the logical system of the Sonnets, ethics (or the truth* dynamic) is any process of thought* involving words, or any expression of thought in language.
           Any process of the mind* that creates a definitive distinction or difference in language between two or more possibilities (for instance between the possibilities of true and false) is an ethical process. The process of differentiation is called truth, or ‘saying*’ in the Sonnets. Despite being defined traditionally as the ultimate good or the perpetually true, ethics or truth as saying cannot logically be a singular possibility. To say that truth is a singularity is to confuse ethics with aesthetics* or beauty*. Truth and beauty are logically distinct. Truth is the dynamic of judgment between right and wrong. The dynamic of ethics and aesthetics is a perpetual process between ideas in language and the experience of sensations. In the Sonnets, the Muse* characterises truth. It is the entity associated with verbal expression through language, poetry, argument, thought, etc. Science* as the assessment of the correctness of a hypothesis uses language to gain knowledge and so is a form of ethics. There cannot be a science of ethics, for instance, that investigates the logic of ethics because the dynamic of truth or ethics is logically the basis for scientific investigation. Effectively, in that case, the phrase ‘science of ethics’ or ‘ethics of ethics’ is a tautology*.

    Eyes: The eyes play a major role in the Sonnets. Half the Sonnets use one or more words associated with the eyes, seeing*, or sight (see A. 8).
          The eyes, as the organs of sight, are the principal source of sensation* for the human mind. This is recognised by the characterisation of beauty*, or the possibility of all sensations, as seeing. The other senses are mentioned in the Sonnets (in 130, for instance) but, when the logic of beauty is considered, the eyes, as the principal sense, are used to symbolise the rest. In sonnet 14 the eyes are identified as the source of truth* and beauty. Because they are biologically associated with the human possibility in Nature* they displace any other source of divination, such as the stars. The eye-to-eye contact between the Poet* and the Master Mistress*, and the Poet and the Mistress*, enables the Poet to establish a path from eye to mind* to heart*, and to the imaginary soul*. Because the Sonnets demonstrate the logical relation between the body and mind through the increase* argument, the imaginary soul is firmly located in human nature within Nature. To complete the logical relationship, the eyes that light the mind have their counterpart in the eyes of body, or the sexual* organs. The eye is referred to as a sexual organ a number of times in the Sonnets. The path from the eyes, through the mind, to the heart connects with the eye of the womb and fertility. Because the function of the eyes has not been understood in the traditional interpretation of the Sonnets, crucial words associated with them have been emended.


    Father: In the increase* sonnets the youth is specifically reminded of the logical conditions of his birth.
           IIt is a logical condition for human increase that the youth had a mother* and a father. His derivation from his mother is considered in sonnet 3, and from his father in sonnet 13.

    Feminine: The division of the Sonnets into a female sequence and a male sequence also recognises the division of any female or male into feminine and masculine* personae*.
           The feminine and masculine are erotic* characteristics of either the female or the male. They appear as secondary sexual characteristics of the body or as gender characteristics of the mind. The priority of the female over the male establishes the logic of the relation between personae. The priority of the female over the male, or the derivation of the male from the female, creates the possibility of a multiplicity of feminine and masculine types. A male can have feminine characteristics just as a female can have masculine characteristics. A number of the sonnets are best understood in terms of the relation between feminine and masculine personae. The cryptic numerology* of the Dedication* encapsulates the interrelationship between the female/male sexual dynamic and the consequent feminine/masculine personae.


    God: The word God occurs three times in the Sonnets (58, 110, and 154). It is first used as an oath when ‘God’ is associated with slavery and pleasure, then the youth is compared to a ‘God in love’, who then becomes the ‘Love- God’ or Cupid in the final sonnet.
           Attempts to represent the Sonnets as Christian, ignore the complete absence of other idealised* personages and persons derived from the biblical and Christian pantheon such as God as Father, God the Son, the Holy Ghost, Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, the Apostles, the Evangelists, or Saints. In the Sonnets the singular sensation of the ideal or absolute occurs under the aegis of Nature, the sovereign mistress*. The ideal, of which the male God of the Bible is a heavily anthropomorphised instance, is fully critiqued in the youth sequence. There the Poet addresses the youth’s excessive idealism, which prevents the youth from achieving maturity. He can gain maturity by acknowledging his logical relation to the female, or the Mistress*. The prioritisation* of the idealised male in the form of a God by religions such as Christianity keeps their philosophical development in a perpetual state of adolescence.


    Heart: The heart is at the centre of the logical relation between the eyes* of sight and the ‘eyes’ of the sexual* organs.
          The word heart first occurs in sonnet 20. There the eyes of the head and the ‘prick’ of the groin, exert their influence on the heart. The trajectory from the observer’s eyes, into the eyes of the person viewed, into the mind* and to the heart and soul* (or the imagination) is met from the other direction by the trajectory from the sexual* eye, up through the reproductive organs to the heart, to its influence on the soul and mind. If the soul or imagination is ‘amazed’by what it sees it can either lead the heart astray into false fashions, or anchor it in the logic of the body dynamic. As the seat of the emotions, and particularly love*, the heart is at the crossroads between the natural process from eye to the eyes, and the fantasies generated by the mind and its imaginary soul.

    Heaven: Nearly half the 20 or so instances of the word heaven refer to the skies above. When the word is used to refer to the spiritual realm it is done with irony or with scant regard for religious niceties.
          For Shakespeare heaven and hell* are potentially interchangeable. What is one person’s heaven can be another person’s hell. The first appearance of the word heaven, in sonnet 14, is explicit in dismissing the idea of receiving judgment or knowledge from a celestial heaven of stars peopled by gods* or goddesses. The consistent philosophy of the Sonnets finds truth and beauty in the eyes of human beings because the idea of a heaven is merely a product of the eyes’ mind* and its imaginary soul.

    Hell: The word hell is used metaphorically in three youth* sonnets (58, 119, and 120) and two of the Mistress* Sonnets (145, and 147). Two other Mistress sonnets (129, and 144) envisage hell as a logical consequence of heaven*.
          Hell and heaven are interchangeable because they are both extreme states of mind that have no counterpart in reality. Traditionally hell is a concatenation of many naturally occurring possibilities considered detrimental to human well-being. Taken alone, any one of the instances is capable of being experienced as either good or evil.

    Hermeticism: The universal difficulty experienced in understanding Shakespeare’s philosophy has led to speculation about his relation to hermetic societies or practices.
          In sonnet 14, Shakespeare rejects all forms of the hermetic or arcane from his consistent and comprehensive understanding. Ted Hughes’* attempt to understand the mythical* dimension of Shakespeare’s works suffers fatally because of his expectation Shakespeare adhered to some form of occult Neo-Platonist* ‘theophany’. Hughes’ characterisation of Nature as the ‘Goddess of Complete Being’, gives Shakespeare’s articulation of the logic of Nature* an unintended association with mythological* pantheons of Gods and Goddesses. In the Sonnets, Nature (the sovereign mistress*) is the basis for the derivation of a consistent philosophy.

    Hope: The philosophy of the Sonnets recognises two preconditions for the possibility of hope. The first is the priority of the female over male, and the second is the logic of increase*.
          The philosophy of the Sonnets examines the contradictions that occur when the erotic logic of mythologies is believed in literally. Many mythologies position the male prior to the female and the mind prior to the bodily logic of increase. When taken literally, the erotic logic of myth generates an psychological hope for an imaginary world to compensate for gap between male-based religious idealism* and the dynamic of natural logic. The Master Mistress* sonnets are devoted to securing a judicial understanding of the nature of hope for the youth*. Hope in the Sonnets is based on the logic there would be no hope for humankind if there was no increase. Only by accepting the two preconditions can the mind experience hope consistent with the human potentiality in Nature.

    Hour: The Sonnet philosophy recognises that the period of an hour is a human construct. Like the minute* it is an arbitrary division of the day.
          The system of hours structured into the Sonnets is based on the number 12. This is most likely in keeping with the 12 hours of the liturgical day of the early Church, which measured time* from dawn to dusk. Sonnet 12 has time as its theme (as does sonnet 60) and a pattern of twelve 12s is structured into the Sonnets through the arrangement of the Sonnets from page to page. Conventional agreement about the duration of the hour is acknowledged by confining the temporal structure of 12s within the Sonnets from sonnets 10 to 153. Significantly, the pattern is parenthesised by a group of 9 sonnets at the beginning and by 1 sonnet (154) at the end.

    Hughes, Ted: In his Shakespeare and the Goddess of Complete Being Hughes presents a ‘dramatic equation’ that he bases on the mythological* figures of Venus and Adonis and the legendary figures of Tarquin and Lucrece taken from Shakespeare’s early poems.
          Hughes’suggestion that Shakespeare’s system of understanding was based in the female, or the ‘Mother Goddess’, conforms in principle with the philosophy presented in the Sonnets. He also derives a ‘psycho-biological’ dynamic from the early poems and the Sonnets. But his decision, announced in his introduction, to separate the ‘mythical*’ from the ‘realism’ in Shakespeare’s works, leads to his ‘dramatic equation’ applying with conditions to only 14 out of 38 plays. Hughes makes the mistake of using the mythological characters from the early poems as an interpretative device for the plays out of an expectation that occult Neo-Platonism* holds the answer to the difficulties in appreciating Shakespeare’s ‘mythical’ depth. The plays, though, are patently free of mythological characterisation and those that have a mythological setting are distinctly critical of the genre. Hughes makes the greater mistake of interpreting the Sonnets in the light of the characters from the early poems. Because he absents ‘realism’ from his interpretation, he conforms to the traditional Platonic/Christian* prejudice toward individual sonnets. Like many traditional commentators he wrongly considers the so-called Christian sonnets 116 and 129 as the key to the Sonnet meaning. And, typically, he does not see the significance of the whole set as Nature, the increase* argument, and the importance of the truth* and beauty* dynamic.

    Hyperbole: It is common practice among commentators to resort to discussions of figures of speech when they fail to appreciate the significance of an aspect of the Sonnets.
          Blair Leishman, for instance, who shows he has no insight into the Sonnet philosophy*, is reduced to characterising as hyperbole what seem to him to be overstated conceits. The instances he disparages, when read correctly, are exact expressions of Shakespeare’s consistent* philosophy.


    Ideal: In the Sonnet philosophy* the possibility of the ideal derives from the logical dynamic of the human mind within Nature*. The natural dynamic of the human mind is the given within which the possibility of the ideal functions.
          In Nature, the possibility of experiencing the ideal is continually countered by its antithesis in everyday reality. Shakespeare represents the dynamic by having the female entities in the Sonnets, Nature, the sovereign mistress*, and the Mistress*, exhibit both the ideal and its antithesis. Because the female derives more directly from Nature, the Mistress exhibits both possibilities. By contrast, the derivation of the male from the female generates a being with secondary physiological and psychological characteristics and a tendency to compensate for the lack of the complete dynamic of the Mistress. One of the consequences of the deficiencies is a tendency of the male to value the ideal at the expense of the real (Hughes*). The numbering of the whole set and the two sub-sequences captures the logical status of each of the protagonists exactly. As the representative male, the Master Mistress*, because of his excessive idealistic trait, is unable without guidance to appreciate the logical relation to the Mistress through the increase* process. The role of the Poet* is to inculcate in the youth the logic of that relationship, a relationship the Poet has previously come to understand and articulate in his philosophic poetry. If the youth fails to appreciate the natural logic of his being, the alternative is to be rendered at death* directly into Nature, rather than perpetuated through increase. The logical critique of the ideal in the youth sonnets is applicable to any idealistic system including the Platonic* and the Christian*. By arguing that the youth will be no more than a rival (or immature) poet, if he fails to mature his understanding, the Poet suggests that any system of thought that prioritises the ideal in terms of the male remains adolescent. Biblical and Platonic understandings prioritise the ideal male for political and psychological reasons with illogical consequences when those ideals are claimed to be the basis, or the origin, of the world.

    Ideas: The Sonnets consider the relationship of ideas under the dynamic of truth*.
          The Sonnet logic distinguishes between beauty* and truth, or sensations* and ideas. A sensation is any perception unmediated by thought* or speech, whereas ideas are logically sayable. The process of saying* involves judgment* between right and wrong. The judgments form the basis of sound knowledge*. Sonnet 14 identifies the eyes* of the youth* as the source of knowledge through the dynamic of truth and beauty. Because understanding derives from the logic of increase*, with the eyes of the sexual* organs related logically to the eyes of the face, the process of seeing* is deeply connected with the process of understanding. Ideas are a logical consequence of the sexual nature of human life*. They derive their potential from their logical connection to the dynamic of the body*.

    Immortality: There are three types of immortality available in the Sonnets. Immortality occurs through increase*, through Nature*, and in a limited sense through poetry.
          Because humans are sexual* beings, and are logically required to increase to persist from one generation to the next, immortality through increase takes priority over any other form of immortality. It is only through increase that humankind persists. The second form of immortality is an absorption into Nature, the sovereign mistress*, without increase. This is the option the youth* faces if he does not act on the logic of the increase argument. The third form of immortality occurs when the image or description of a person is recorded in a form of art*. This is the most limited form as it can only capture aspects of a moment in the life* of an individual or group and is subject, when written in a book, carved as a monument, or painted as a picture, to the ravages of time*. It is also limited because only a small percentage of human beings are so remembered. The immortality promised in such books as the Bible* is a metaphorical possibility garnered from the second and third forms.

    Increase: The first 14 sonnets present the increase argument. They express the logical entailment that without increase there would be no human beings
          Increase in Nature is a consequence of the differentiation of organisms into sexual types. The increase argument expresses the logical requirement that the female and male reunite for the persistence of the species. The first 14 sonnets present the argument for the logic of increase. They do this principally in terms of the condition for human persistence, but also prepare the way for the influence of the sexual* dynamic on the operations of the human mind*. The word increase is introduced in the first line of the first sonnet and occurs again in sonnet 11, which presents the logical implications of increase for human persistence. Sonnet 14, the last of the increase sonnets, states that increase (‘store*’) is prior to truth* and beauty* or the operations of the mind. Sonnets 15 to 19 provide an interlude in which the logical relation between increase and the possibility of writing poetry (sonnets) about truth and beauty are presented as pre-conditions for the treatment of truth and beauty in sonnets 20 to 126 and its definitive expression of beauty and truth in sonnets 127 to 152. It is not possible to understand the Sonnets without acknowledging the implications of the increase argument.

    Intuition: Because the Sonnets present the logical relation between truth* and beauty* with precision and consistency*, the Poet’s capacity for intuition is fully complementary to his capacity for judgment* or knowledge*.
          Beauty is logically any form of sensation*, whether from the external senses or from the activities of the mind*. What is traditionally known as intuition refers to a particular type of sensation arising from the activities of the mind. The Poet’s knowledge arises from judgments as to the true or false condition of any circumstance and his intuitions are the result of sensations arising from the accumulation of knowledge in the mind. The logical relation between truth and beauty maintained in the Sonnets ensures the Poet’s knowledge and intuition operate at the same level.

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    Roger Peters Copyright © 2005

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