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Raymond Belliotti is author of new book in philosophy series
Sunday, December 30, 2012

Ray Belliotti
Ray Belliotti.
Book cover, below.

Shakespeare and Philosophy
Dr. Raymond Angelo Belliotti, Distinguished Teaching Professor of Philosophy at SUNY Fredonia, analyzes and applies classical literature to contemporary social problems in his latest book, Shakespeare and Philosophy: Lust, Love, and Law, recently published by Rodopi Editions in Philosophy, Literature, and Politics, a special series in its Value Inquiry Book Series.

The book is an interdisciplinary work that weaves literary interpretation, legal theory, and philosophical doctrine about sex and love into a coherent mosaic in the context of two of Shakespeare’s plays: The Merchant of Venice and Measure for Measure. In the process, the work advances literary interpretations of the plays including character studies of the main protagonists.

Belliotti remarked that, “The aim is partly theoretical but mostly practical: to demonstrate what we can learn about living a robustly meaningful and significant human life by taking Shakespeare’s work seriously from contemporary philosophical and legal vantage points.”

Shakespeare does not reveal a tightly defined moral system that he is trying to urge upon his audience. Instead, Shakespeare challenges his audience to struggle with moral complexity as they confront conflicting elements surrounding legal and moral issues presented in his work and within the souls of his characters. His issues and their conflicts are also ours.

Much of Shakespeare’s work consists of raising weighty questions inextricably connected to the human condition and inviting his audience to ponder possible answers. The philosophical lessons about living our lives meaningfully and significantly that we can derive from Shakespeare are simple yet powerful.

Leonidas Donskis, a Lithuanian politician, historian and philosopher, who has been a member of the European Parliament since 2009, commented that, “Belliotti’s book strikes its readership as a perceptive and profound study of Shakespeare as a philosopher. It is a timely study of the timeless Shakespeare.

The subtle points that Belliotti makes about two of Shakespeare’s plays allow him the point of departure in combining literary interpretation, legal theory, and philosophical doctrine. Belliotti is at his best when he defines the existential tension between individualism and community, which is the nexus of his study. Shakespeare’s plays anticipated the tensions between the individual and family, family and community, community and society, society and the state. We owe much to Raymond Angelo Belliotti’s book for reminding us of all this.”

Belliotti has written 12 other books addressing issues in jurisprudence, sexual ethics, ethnic identity, Nietzsche, the meaning of life, human happiness, philosophy and baseball, Machiavelli, Roman philosophy, Dante, and posthumous harm.

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