From Hamlet to Maggie Verver:. The history and politics of the knowing subject

Naomi Scheman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


This essay explores the connections between, on the one hand, Hamlet and Wittgenstein's Tractatus and, on the other hand, The Golden Bowl and Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations. The issues involved concern the nature of the knowing subject and that subject's relationship to the objects of knowledge: facts. It is argued that, for the earlier pair of texts (one of which foreshadows and the other of which apotheosizes the world of classical Western modernity), that relationship is one of sharply separated and allegedly wholly independent subjects and objects. In the latter and later pair of texts, which reflect the unsettling of that world, subjects and objects are seen as interacting and mutually constituting. Questions are raised about the role played in this unsettling by the political struggles of women and people of the Third World both to claim and to transform the status of knowing subject, and about the consequences for the development of a liberatory epistemology of the abandonment of even the sort of minimal foundationalism constructivism espouses, with its taking as given the identity of the knowing subject.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)449-469
Number of pages21
Issue number4-5
StatePublished - Oct 1989
Externally publishedYes


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