Literary Adaptation: Sceptical Paradigms, Sceptical Values
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Above all else, the lesson of chapters 2 and 3 is that the reception of ancient scepticism in Renaissance England, especially the literary reception, may be characterized more as distortion than as precise reflection, more as tendentious appropriation than as dispassionate representation. And this is scarcely surprising. It would have been remarkable had the writers of early modern Britain taken up the epistemological debates of Sextus and Cicero without altering their terms and balances. Still, as I trust my survey has shown, the concerns of classical scepticism were by no means unfamiliar to English intellectuals, even if specific manifestations of these concerns were coloured by contemporary social questions. Nor was lay scepticism entirely severed from its philosophically elaborated counterpart. On the contrary, the two became increasingly interlaced as the period wore on, and in no realm is this more apparent than in that of literary production. We find in many literary texts, even those decidedly non-sceptical in general tenor, various constellations of sceptical ideas and attitudes that inflect and are inflected by scripture, proverbial wisdom, contemporary politics and Reformation debate. The locus of interest, then, lies in literary recombinations: the adaptations, deformations and deployments of scepticism — in short, with sceptical paradigms.
KeywordsCognitive Frailty Literary Adaptation Human Frailty Intellectual Humility Philosophical Scepticism
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