The Absence of Epistemology, or Drama and Divinity Before Descartes

  • Debora K. Shuger
Part of the Crossroads of Knowledge in Early Modern Literature book series (CKEML, volume 1)


There is very little sacred drama in post-Reformation England, but there are two popular Jacobean conversion plays (Massinger’s Renegado and Dekker and Massinger’s Virgin Martyr) first staged little more than a decade before Descartes’ Discourse on Method. As conversion dramas, these plays should (one would think) engage, however superficially, epistemic questions: for example, how do you know, or why do you believe, that there is a heaven? That the Bible is divinely revealed? It seems hard to imagine how these stagings of conversion could avoid such questions—and yet they do; and by so doing they allow us to see the conception of reason/belief/knowledge from which the ‘epistemic turn’ turned.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Debora K. Shuger
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EnglishUniversity of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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