Changes in consciousness must be discernable
I am speaking to the sceptical commonsense of an English conference of the relevance to the authorship question of the great Germanophile critic and poet Coleridge. So I must find a strategy to bring continental philosophical insights into view in down to earth ways!
The heart of it is that Coleridge articulated for the first time that Shakespeare, especially Hamlet, represents a new kind of consciousness. This new consciousness could not possibly not be manifest in various powerful ways in the life of the author. If a putative author, for whom we have evidence, lacks any capacity for such kinds of consciousness, he cannot be the author; if we have significant evidence for someone who intimately corresponds to the nature of such consciousness, they are a likely candidate for the authorship.
We need to make distinctions here. Basically, I am offering a very strong philosophical-historical argument to show that James Shapiro and his fellow travellers cannot possibly be correct, when they argue, drawing on Malone (Contested Will, 2010), that the attribution of broadly authoro-biographical significance to Shakespeare’s writing is anachronistic. My argument is based on making distinctions which Shapiro has no thought of making. It’s a quite technical argument which could by no means be used in late night chat shows! But to have a very strong philosophical basis, and foundation for our positions is not a bad thing for our confidence, and clarity. And it illuminates a great deal about where we are starting from.