Roger Peters Copyright © 2005
The Quaternary Investigation into the Evolution Toward the Uniqueness in Shakespeare
To what extent and in what sense can it be said William Shakespeare's (1564-1616) works anticipate modern liberal democracies where all adults, female and male, have the right to vote? After all, around the year 1600, the mid-point of Shakespeare's career as a playwright and poet, there is no such thing as universal democratic suffrage in England.
Rather there are varying degrees of theocratic dictatorship of Monarchy and/or Church across the whole of Europe with proscribed forms of parliamentary representation providing a voice for a select few. High ranking males act as sounding boards for their monarchs or, as under Henry VIII (1491-1547), the Lords could challenge the monarch's right to act unilaterally on some issues.
Although, early in the Thirteenth Century, Magna Carta (1215) redresses the excesses and injustices of monarchs like King John (1167-1216) who claim to rule by divine right, during and after Shakespeare's day kings such as James I (1566-1625) and Charles I (1600-1649) still claim divine sanction, hence denying natural human rights to the many. Consequently, Parliament after the Restoration of Charles II (1630-1685) institutes further legislation in the 1689 Bill of Rights and the 1702 Act of Settlement to curb the abuses by English monarchs.
However, the emphasis at the beginning of the Eighteenth Century is again on restricting the hereditary and God-sanctioned claims of the now largely powerless monarchs and less on devolving greater powers on a truly democratically elected parliament. Worse, rather than finding natural common ground between all citizens, the Monarchy in the emerging Kingdom of Great Britain is reserved for Anglicans in a determined move to exclude entitled Catholics from succession.
Not until later in the Eighteenth Century after the revolutions in France and America in particular does the overthrow of hereditary monarchy lead to an opportunity for genuine representation for the common people. First, males become enfranchised and are able to vote for the parliament of their choice. Increasingly, states retaining the monarchy consign it to a largely perfunctory role.
After France kills off its Monarchy and introduces universal male suffrage in 1792, it is thirty years into the Nineteenth Century before all adult males achieve the vote unconditionally in countries like Greece (1829) and later Germany (1871) but not until 1965 in the USA. (While Thomas Jefferson is instrumental in drafting the Declaration of Independence and has a say in the American Constitution, which crucially separates Church and State, his and some of his colleagues support for slavery is not redressed unconditionally until after the riots at Selma in 1965.)
Although New Zealand introduces women's suffrage in 1893, females only gradually gain the right to vote in the Twentieth Century. Australia (1902) and Finland (1906) lead the way but countries like France (1944), China (1949), Greece (1952) and Switzerland (1971) hold out until around or after mid-Century. Significantly, many territories including Vatican City State still refuse even limited female suffrage while Saudi Arabia is about to introduce limited rights for women in local council elections.
Is there a connection between females gaining the right to vote in the early-to-mid Twentieth Century and the burgeoning interest in Shakespeare's works since that time? Until thirty or so years ago, only a few of Shakespeare's plays are produced regularly and they are mostly the so-called 'Great' Tragedies like Hamlet, Othello, Macbeth, Lear and Romeo and Juliet and the supposedly lighter Comedies like A Midsummer Night's Dream.
It is now common for directors to want to produce all Shakespeare's plays in their lifetimes, with every play being staged somewhere in the world in a calendar year. The inclusive approach now means celebrating Comedies in which females take a strident role in overturning male-based prejudice and injustices as in Love's Labour's Lost, Twelfth Night and The Merchant of Venice. In contrast, in the not so 'Great' Tragedies like Timon of Athens and Titus Andronicus title males can now be seen to manifestly head the syndrome of gratuitous mayhem and murder.
The transition from monarchical and ecclesiastical autocracy to one vote for every citizen regardless of gender, race or creed to elect a representative parliament is very much a recent phenomenon. Even today, out of the 190 or so countries in the United Nations only twenty-four can be considered fully democratic with more than fifty still resolutely theocratic and/or autocratic as were most countries in Shakespeare's day.
If we include the various forms of democracy, then Freedom House reckons there are 123 electoral democracies today compared with just 40 in 1972. By that measure there has been a strong impulse for some form of democratic rule over the last forty or so years. Again, the increase coincides with but we have not yet related to the exponential interest in all Shakespeare's works over the previous half-century.
What, within the last two-hundred years particularly, changes in world politics to encourage a number of constituencies mainly in Europe, North and South America, Australasia and isolated instances elsewhere to overturn millennia of nondemocratic rule? Further, is there a common denominator between the democratic impulse and the deeply abiding influence of Shakespeare's works over the same period and now dramatically into the Twenty-first Century?
The 'Laws of Nature' and 'Nature's God'
Just over two hundred years ago the Declaration of Independence heralds the intent of the American Congress to dissolve constitutional ties with the British Crown. Significantly, in the desire to avoid the malconsequences of the Anglican Monarchy, two substantive concepts appear in the first sentence of the original printing of July 4, 1776. They are the 'Laws of Nature' and 'Nature's God'.
As Thomas Jefferson has responsibility for writing the first draft of the Declaration, the two phrases accord with his and Thomas Paine's expectation as Deists that 'God' may have created the world but then has no part in its day-to-day workings. Instead, according to the first sentence (which also forms the first paragraph) the 'Laws of Nature' determine the progress of the Universe and life on Earth. Hence, God is no more than 'Nature's God'.
Although Jefferson is the principal architect of the wording of the Declaration, some of his colleagues alter the sense in places to accord with their more Christian sentiment. The second sentence, which mentions 'all men' being 'endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights', is less unequivocal in clearly placing God outside the Laws of Nature.
From Jefferson's vantage, the passage means that 'all men' are equal because the original act of creation makes no distinction between human beings of whatever creed. From the Christian standpoint, believers give preference to their faith as God's favoured people, a syndrome that still bedevils American domestic and international politics.
Consequently, biblically-orientated history trumpets the second sentence with its alignment of the 'Creator' with 'Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness'. In contrast, it downplays the significance of Jefferson's recognition of the priority of nature over God for earthly and human affairs and his consignment of God beyond the universe out of harm's way, for His own sake and ours.
For Jefferson the Deist, while Christianity has much to offer as a moral program, claims of Christ's divinity or intercessionist expectations through prayer or miracles are pure human fabrications contrary to the Laws of Nature. He held that religious belief is very much a personal affair and organized religions must be kept separate in law from the exercise of power in the State.
In his design for the University of Virginia, Jefferson gives graphic expression to his determination Church and State represent fantasy and reality respectively. Contrary to the traditional ground plan, Jefferson removes the chapel from its central location and replaces it with the university library to which he donates his own extensive collection of books and documents.
Jefferson's assortment of literature shows he has a lifelong interest in Shakespeare. He owns a number of complete works and commentaries on the plays and poems. His interest is such that, when he visits Shakespeare's birthplace Stratford upon Avon with John Adams in 1786, he chips off as a keepsake a piece of a chair said to be Shakespeare's.
However, Jefferson's Deism, despite its objections to Theism, still considers the deity a male. The continued allegiance to a masculine God prevents Jefferson from critiquing the male-based illogicality of biblical faiths. Consequently, his advocacy of the Laws of Nature is quite partial. Moreover, instead of making a deeper study of nature, Jefferson like Leo Tolstoy after him prepares a version of the New Testament stripped of its divinity and miracles.
Jefferson has no appreciation that according to the 'Laws of Nature' the originating female is the precursor for the offshoot male. If he had investigated the natural state of affairs, he might have realised Shakespeare 200 years previously articulates a nature-based female-priority philosophy in his Sonnets of 1609. Shakespeare's consistent and comprehensive philosophy accepts unconditionally the originating status of the female. Moreover, his plays explore the illogical implications of mind-based/male-based biblical constructs like God.
As a significant intermediary step, though, Jefferson is at least very clear about according 'Nature' its primacy and relegating 'God' to the sidelines when he and his colleagues write the Declaration and then prepare and promulgate the Constitution a few years later. While the Declaration invokes the 'Creator' and the 'Supreme Judge' (against Jefferson's wishes?), there is not a single use of the same words or even the word 'God' throughout the Constitution or its appended Bill of Rights.
Instead, there is a very clear acceptance by all parties for the absolute separation of Church and State in the legislature, executive and judiciary. While religious freedom to practice personal beliefs is guaranteed to every citizen, no one denomination of whatever persuasion can be the religion of the State or any individual State in the Union in complete contrast to the Anglican-beholden British State and Monarchy.
What emerges is a picture of human understanding at the origins of the longest surviving democratic constitution in the world, around mid-point between the end if the Sixteenth Century and the beginning of the Twenty-first Century, in which some of the worst consequences of biblically-inspired autocracy begin to be addressed. However, at the end of the Eighteenth Century, the status of ordinary folk, slaves and particularly women is still bemired in Sixteenth Century prejudices and injustices.
Europe goes global
When the young USA cuts free from mother England around 1800, it is already 300 years since Christopher Columbus (1451-1506) discovers the New World and Ferdinand Magellan (1480-1521) circumnavigates the globe.
Crucially for the events of 1800, in the preceding centuries Greater Europe is a battleground of competing biblical beliefs with Catholic pitted against Protestant and both against the Muslims or Infidels. Those who emigrate to the Colonies and North America in particular over the 200 years before the Declaration of Independence, seek to escape the worst predations of male-based religions aligned to the whims of kings and emperors.
By the end of the Sixteenth Century, Europe is caught between a blind commitment to the propriety of biblical faiths Hebrew, Christian and Muslim and an emerging Global constituency of heterogeneous religious beliefs. Further, as Jefferson demonstrates, there has always been a significant constituency who accept the default position of not needing the psychological resort of a religious myth.
The gradual acceptance of nature as the unquestionable given tracks from Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) attempting to reconcile the priority of his God with Aristotle's natural world, to Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543) arguing for a heliocentric solar system, to Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) demonstrating heliocentricity by turning the newly invented telescope to the heavens, and on to philosophers like Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677) arguing that God and Nature are one and the same.
Spinoza, in mid-Seventeenth Century, epitomises the confusion around the status of God versus Nature. The grammar of the words 'God' and 'Nature' is quite distinct and revealing. However, it will require the investigative methodology Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951) develops in the Twentieth Century to see that the word God is a mind-based construct allowing of plurals and specificity compared to the singular logic of the word Nature that unconditionally represents all possibilities.
The comic effect of wanting God and Nature to coexist on equal terms leads some thinkers to misattribute and overcompensate as they theorise and pray God can act more singularly than he is want to do and the state of nature might prove less intractable. As a case in point, philosopher John Locke's (1632-1704) desire to validate the 'will of the people' shows that metaphysics is metaphysics whatever way you look at it.
Leading up to the 1702 Act of Settlement, Locke argues that primitive people living in a state of nature, free from external authority, have a duty to God. Locke claims further that when they 'leave the state of nature' they 'set up a judge
with authority to determine all the controversies and redress the injuries'. But this authority is not absolute as the judge is 'answerable to the will and determination of the majority'.
Out of his presumptuousness that primitive people recognise Locke's idealised monotheistic God rather than a multiplicity of goddesses and gods in sympathy with their natural surroundings, Locke then imagines a sophisticated society in which a human 'judge' is responsive to the will of the people. Yet it is the biblical mind-based construct of a male God who is invoked as the ultimate judge in that society.
Locke inverts reality when he makes his God the recourse of primitive people while his own society has a secular 'judge'. He willfully ignores the short history of the monotheistic God the writers of Genesis invent only a few thousand years ago for their sophisticated cultures. His confusion is symptomatic of the desire to enact natural social justice while still believing in an omnipotent male God.
Even before Locke, though, the circumnavigation of the globe and the demonstration of the heliocentricity of the solar system both show biblical verities to be no more than fictions and that nature is the ultimate recourse for human understanding. However, it is not until Charles Darwin (1809-1882) in The Origin of Species shows that all humans are evolved from species lower in the animal hierarchy that the forces of nature completely overshadow biblical claims of God's existence and influence.
Darwin goes further in The Descent of Man when he argues on the basis of evidence that human 'mental powers' and 'moral sense' are derived from the faculties and sensibilities of other related species. The idea the capabilities of the human mind evolve over time from sensate but incognitive species to fully cognitive humans shows the human mind derives from bodily potentialities.
Into the Twentieth Century, the artist Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968) displays graphically in his major work The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even or Large Glass the natural relationship of female priority to male reflectivity in art, and consequently for any form of human endeavor. By representing the logical conditions for all mythic expression in the arrangement and mechanisms of the Large Glass, Duchamp also rectifies 4000 or so years of male-based usurpation.
As the female is the precursor for the male in all species, then the female-driven sexual dynamic creates the male-driven mind dynamic. While the male or masculine drive is responsible for constructs and constructions, the imaginary male-based claims of mind-based biblical religions cannot supplant the originary female.
Biology of the female as precursor
While the evidence from multiple sources supports the biological fact the female is the precursor for the male in all sexual species since single cell animals differentiated eons ago, the issue for the politics of male-based autocracy versus universal-suffrage democracy is not so much in proving it to be the case but accepting it is the case.
Whether by following the development of the fertilised egg in the womb where genes and hormones act on the originary female to change her into a male potentiality or remain female, or simply by observing the primary role the female has in reproductive responsibilities including pregnancy and nurturing, the female emerges unequivocally as the precursor for the male.
By considering the significance of mitochondrial DNA, rudimentary sexual characteristics such as nipples in the male, the disposition of feminine and masculine gender characteristics and the role of secondary sexual characteristics in courtship, in each instance the generative role of the female and the subsidiary role of the male emerges.
The consequence of weighing the evidence for female priority should be an acceptance that the formation of the male from the female potentiality is an act of partnership and not one of domination. The consequence of not accepting the evidence but of asserting the priority of male over female leads to expectations and strictures that enforce an unnatural imposition of male/masculine dominance over female/feminine accommodation.
The telling signs of society acting against the natural order are the freedoms aggregated to the males and the countermanding restraints placed on female liberty and expression. In male-based religious cultures, the measures instituted to ensure male dominance sanctioned supposedly by a male God range from blasphemy, to the confinement of women, to honour killings.
Hence, to a qualified or a casual observer, the twofold evidence of scientific findings and cultural oppression confirm the natural originary status of female to male. Yet, there are further consequences for human understanding and expression of the suppression of the female precursorship and the imposition of male priority.
While the females of some species can self-reproduce by parthenogenesis, the males of no species have the capacity to do so. Effectively, the female of any species is the source of reproductive potential while the male needs to return to the female if he wishes to perpetuate himself biologically and ultimately culturally.
The implication is that the male is an evolutionary offshoot of the female created by the original asexual lifeforms to achieve goals other than self-reproductive ones. In effect, the male lacks the full capacity to reproduce himself because his role is to establish opportunities for the female other than those related to reproductive necessity.
The further implication, which is compromised or rendered void by male-based cultures, is that the male potentiality corresponds to the ability of the human mind through language to create ideas that are false, or constructs not known in nature, for the purposes of insight and endeavor. The female/male sexual dynamic corresponds to the true/false dynamic constitutional of language.
Moreover, in the most deeply realised art works, the male fulfils his destiny to the female by reflecting back to her the way she is and the nature of her relationship to him. This is the essence of the appeal of the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), and is the principal content of Duchamp's Large Glass and other works, which encapsulate the mythic relationship of female priority to male representation precisely.
The irony of biblical male-based mythologies is that the male narcissistically thinks he is the object to be admired in a mirror he holds up to himself. Hence the infighting that readily occurs between male-based religions when each narcissicised God wishes to be the center of his own selfish attention instead of creatively reflecting the female back to her fecund self.
The alignment of narcissistic religious power-mongering with personal aggrandisement that characterises the theocratic autocracies through the ages creates intolerable privileges and injustices that are usually overthrown only by violent revolution.
The remnants of such delusions and excesses can be seen in the ring-fenced Vatican State and Buckingham Palace. Yet, live instances are still visible recently in Northern Ireland and Yugoslavia as well as Saudi Arabia and other Muslim States where male-based religion is used as a means of repression antagonistic to the democratic communion of humankind.
With the word nature occurring uniquely only in the singular when referring to all possibilities there is no generic plural 'natures' and the undeniability of female priority, it seems appropriate that modern liberal democracies look to nature and acknowledge the female/male partnership before true democratic opportunities can flourish.
Shakespeare's nature-based philosophy
The trend toward democracy and universal suffrage for both female and male seems to be associated with cultures in which the female is not triumphed over by the male so allowing ubiquitous nature to trump and ring-fence Gods. The trend has barely begun in Shakespeare's day, so in what way can it be said his works presage the shift from theocratic/monarchic autocracies to modern democratic states.
When John Heminge and Henry Condell in the prefatory material to the 1623 Folio say Shakespeare 'was a happy imitator of Nature' and a 'gentle expresser of it' and Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) asserts Shakespeare holds a mirror up to nature, and many accept Shakespeare bases his works in nature rather than biblical Gods or Platonic ideals, it should occasion no surprise Shakespeare publishes his set of 154 sonnets in 1609 to present a nature-based philosophy.
Yet, ironically, the ability to first discern and then develop a full account of the way Shakespeare structures his nature-based philosophy into the sonnet set has had to wait until near the end of the Twentieth Century. Just over 100 years after women gain the vote in New Zealand, it can be shown conclusively that Shakespeare intentionally embeds his nature-based philosophy in his 1609 Sonnets and that he acknowledges the female as the precursor for the offshoot male.
Shakespeare arranges his 154 sonnets so that the whole set represents singular nature and the two internal sequences of 28 sonnets represent the originary female and 126 sonnets represent the offshoot male respectively. By allowing nature, female and male to be represented by the overt features of the set, Shakespeare acknowledges they are unarguable givens that logically determine everything else that follows both within nature at large and in the set.
To emphasise the significance of his unique decision to address both female and male in a sonnet set of his day, Shakespeare adapts the numerological ordering system common amongst poets before and during his time to characterise his logical entities. The 154 sonnets representing nature numerologically reduce to a unity (154 = 1+5+4 = 10 = 1+0 = 1) that corresponds to the generic word nature being used only in the singular and never the plural except metaphorically as human natures.
Similarly, the 28 sonnets representing the female also reduce to a unity (28 = 2+8 = 10 = 1+0 = 1) as the originary female has a direct relation to originating nature. Subsequently, the 126 sonnets representing the offshoot male add to only 9 (126 = 1+2+6 = 9) to recognise his differentiation from the originating female in nature and indicate the requirement he return to the female to fulfil his role in life (9 + 1 = 10 = 1+0 = 1).
To that end, Shakespeare opens the set with 14 increase sonnets that argue the male should return to the female if humankind wishes to persist otherwise there will be no more humans in 'three score years' as sonnet 11 avows. The opening argument in the set addresses the logical consequences of the differentiation of male from female in nature.
Once Shakespeare establishes the logical relationship between nature, the female/male sexual dynamic and the logic of increase, he then proceeds to explore the implications for the human mind in terms of incoming sensations, the true/false logic of language and the interior sensations of the mind. The natural connectivity between the body dynamic and the mind dynamic and the complete consistency of its implications reinforces the appropriateness of acknowledging the female priority in nature for every aspect of human endeavour.
Nature Template (Sonnet numbers)
The logical relationships can be represented in a Nature template that shows how the various parts of the sonnet arrangement cohere isomorphically to provide a powerful tool for interpretation and exploration. The terminology of the sonnet set is maintained in the Nature template to demonstrate how the 1609 Sonnets configure the relationships.
The elements of the Sonnet logic could be examined in detail to demonstrate their cogency and utility (see the four-volume William Shakespeare's Sonnet Philosophy of 2005). However, for our purposes the next move is to assert that Shakespeare publishes the Sonnets in 1609 to present the philosophy behind all his plays and longer poems.
By demonstrating Shakespeare bases the political, social and religious critique apparent in the thirty-six plays of the 1623 Folio on the nature-based and female precursor logic of the Sonnets, we can begin to appreciate why there is a connection between the burgeoning interest in Shakespeare's work late Twentieth Century and the growth in the proportion of countries opting for universal suffrage in liberal democracies.
Shakespeare's colleagues arrange the plays in the 1623 Folio possibly according to his wishes into fourteen Comedies, ten Histories and twelve Tragedies. Shakespeare shows how to apply the Sonnet philosophy successfully in the Comedies to avert male-based dysfunction while conversely in the Histories and Tragedies he examines circumstances where the absence of the philosophy leads to mayhem and murder. The plays, then, are where the relationship between Shakespeare's nature-based philosophy and some of the first inklings of modern democracies can be discerned.
Not only is nature referenced constantly throughout the thirty-six plays, in the fourteen generically titled Comedies eleven canny and cunning females and three gender balanced males take the lead to resolve male-based crimes and injustices. Contrarily, in the twenty-two Histories and Tragedies, males named in the titles cause political, social and religious hegemony and violence.
While there are no democratic rights or constitutional governments in Shakespeare's day, his works argue for natural justice, female rights and against the autocratic imposition of male-based politics and religions. From 400 years ago to the present day, the excesses of monarchies, dictatorships, religions, racism, institutionalised misogyny and other impositions and exactions have been redressed gradually.
All are issues Shakespeare's nature-based philosophy provides a criticism of and implements viable remedies for both in its Sonnet presentation and its application to a multiplicity of situations in the plays and longer poems. That Shakespeare's philosophy has remained unknown until very recently suggests the unwitting influence of his works over the period since 1600 can now be enhanced immeasurably as the global world catches up.
Getting it right about myth
Besides the recent revelation of the brilliant nature-based philosophy embedded in the 1609 Sonnets, another aspect of Shakespeare's achievement helps explain the enduring fascination with his works. In the Sonnets, Shakespeare articulates fully the logical conditions for mythic expression, hence providing a level of artistic depth and integrity in his plays and poems unknown in any other oeuvre.
The only artist ever to have similarly articulated the logical conditions for mythic expression is Marcel Duchamp in the Twentieth Century. His achievement, though, is limited by his exclusive focus on mind-based aesthetics. Shakespeare not only captures the basis of all mythic writing and art, he explains how he does so for every aspect of human endeavour in the Sonnets and explores a range of trenchant life and death issues in the plays to provide a truly magisterial corpus of global significance.
As a contribution to the developing momentum towards democracy worldwide, Shakespeare's works encompass the natural conditions that ensure universal suffrage accomplishes its aims. He also achieves an exceptional level of mythic depth to assuage the desires of those needing connectivity between nature and their imaginary mythological ambitions and concerns.
The timeliness of the recent trend to democracy is underpinned by the realisation male-based/mind-based prerogatives can only serve the interests of believers in a particular mythology or even a group of mythologies and even more so their religious masters. In contrast, by insisting on universal suffrage, modern democracies ensure an unprejudiced resort to nature and the female priority. Consequently, democracies are able to be systematically free at heart from the partisan tastes and expectations male-based myths generate.
The issues are highlighted in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Declaration ensures all member states unite under the banner of a mythology-free zone. Anyone can change their 'religion or belief' (Article 18) without fear of persecution, and women particularly have 'equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution' (Article 16).
Yet Muslims insist on creating their own Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam to retain misogynistic practices and religious impositions. Worse, Shimon Peres (1923-) approaches Pope Francis (1936-) in 2014 to propose a United Nations of Religions. Peres, and his ilk, completely ignore the fact genuine democratic gains are achievable only by taking religion off the political agenda or at least constitutionally ring-fencing the sentimental remnants of male-based faiths from undue access to political power.
The monumental shift toward natural justice is evident recently in the large majority of Irish voters in a referendum who support the right to marriage for all citizens regardless of sexual proclivity. Previously, the male-based Catholic Church in which no priest marries dictates the sexual mores of the people. However, the contradictions and hypocrisies of a Church hiding its sexual and homosexual abuses surreptitiously, while denying natural rights to homosexuals, is at last remedied by the will of the people.
When the Irish have an opportunity to express their views untraumatised by a diabolical Church, they respond to the idea all forms of sexuality are a natural consequence of sexual differentiation in the womb. The opportunity to listen to natural prerogatives revives the female priority and returns the Irish community to justice and fairness after millennia of religious abuse and fear.
If nation states insist on promulgating one form of religious belief as the basis for democracy, then the ability of the plebiscite to effectively find recourse in nature and female/male partnership rather than imaginary Goddesses and Gods is blunted or completely eschewed.
The transition over the previous 400 years from male-based mythologies to a full understanding of the logic of myth for a genuine nature-based democratic plebiscite has been clouded and confused by attempts to forge compromises between the old ways and the emerging sensibility. The bewilderment as to who or what goes where recalls the confusion bedeviling Locke in the Seventeenth Century.
Typical is the Post-modern syndrome rife in Tertiary academia that allows no concept status over others. Lost in the illogical malaise is the ability of the word nature to uniquely remain singular in all generic uses.
The blindness of the Post-modern compromise is epitomised by its claim all colour observations are culturally determined as a consequence of being named in language. Yet, it is readily demonstrated all people see the same colour spectrum throughout nature (other than for colour blindness) despite various colours and grouping of colours and being called different names in different cultures.
As nature is the only word logically singular and universal, and as the female is the precursor for the male, then only by allowing a constituency complete freedom from the dictates of taste (with male-based myths as the ultimate in contrived taste) by acknowledging the evolutionary sexual partnership of female and male and its natural correlates can the natural sensibility gain a political voice.
Common ground nature and universal suffrage
Is it a coincidence Shakespeare's works are receiving unprecedented airing just when democracies based on universal suffrage for females and males supplant autocracies based on male privilege and as nature-based constitutions supersede God-based monarchic and papal impositions?
Shakespeare's sonnets, plays and poems are demonstrably the only body of work to articulate a consistent and comprehensive nature-based/female originary philosophy. This means the apparent coincidence between the recent move to universal suffrage for females and males and the exponential upsurge in staging all Shakespeare's works may be no coincidence at all.
The dramatic shift from monarchic and theocratic dictatorships to multi-party parliaments over the last 400 years also replicates the contrast between doctrinaire/dogmatism of autocracies and the extensive process of argument and inculcation of nature-based mores evident throughout Shakespeare's works. While the basic arguments are evident in his 154 sonnets, they are elaborated exquisitely and extensively throughout political, social and religious scenarios he case-studies in his four longer poems and the Folio of thirty-six plays.
The righteous absoluteness of autocratic/dictatorial edicts regardless of their fairness for other than the ruling elite is now replaced by the parliamentary debating chamber where every citizen has the democratic right to have their point of view represented. While the competing party-political factions in a modern democracy represent the spectrum of special interest constituencies, by subjecting the various candidatures to a frequent nature-based universal plebiscite their voices can be weighed against the natural benefits and harms both human and environmental.
The rise of Green Parties under increased democratic accountability confirms the need for the natural conscience to have a voice to ameliorate the malconsequences of purely mind-based constructs like the monotheistic God and particularly male-biased biblically sanctioned political impositions and exactions. The ten to twenty percent level of parliamentary representation of Green Parties is a reflection of the current balance between mind-based/male-based prerogatives as aspirations that drive economies and cultures and the need for the excesses of such expectations to be subject to natural checks and balances.
With the granting of voting rights to all female and males, the voting age is usually determined by the age of reason. Currently, the majority of countries worldwide opt for 18 years while a few countries range from 21 (Fiji) to 16 (Brazil where those under 18 and over 70 do not have to vote).
The appropriate voting age is decided by the ability of the young person to weigh the social, political, economic and religious issues with some maturity. Until a young student has not only learnt basic language and numeracy skills and how to associate ideas but has inculcated the basics of the parliamentary system their apparent authenticity as children is vulnerable to their own naivety or the influence of those acting for ulterior motives.
Whatever issues surface in the modern democratic system, by returning the constituency to the ballot box every few years the recourse to nature and the originary female acts as a balancing process to rectify and remedy the tendency for one or other political faction to implement their policies unchecked by considered popular consent. Concomitant freedoms of the press and freedom to association and the right to dissent ensures politicians can both raise objections to policy initiatives and be held to account for transgressions of natural prerogatives.
As a philosopher of unrivalled integrity and insight, in his works Shakespeare predicts the demise of the Monarchy, the ring-fencing of Churches, the prohibition of racism, and the enfranchisement of male and particularly females. Consistent with his philosophic sensibility, Shakespeare does not propose forms of political, social and religious society for the future. Rather his logical critique creates guidelines and opportunities for those faced with scenarios in the future to make decisions appropriate to their times.
Now, at the beginning of the Twenty-first Century, the implications of Shakespeare's thoroughgoing analysis and critique of social, political and religious systems at the end of the Sixteenth Century have, in part, led to universal suffrage in parliamentary democracies as the fastest growing form of governance worldwide.
Basic to any system of government arising from his works is the overt or tacit acceptance of nature as primary (as Jefferson appreciated around the end of the Eighteenth Century) and the originary status of the female for assessing the appropriateness and ambitiousness of policies and constraints.
Roger Peters Copyright © 2005
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