When Lear asks the blinded Gloucester if he can “see how this world goes,” there is a peculiar and haunting quality to Gloucester’s response: “I see it feelingly.” Through Gloucester’s claim to a touching-sight, Shakespeare’s King Lear invokes what might be called the protophenomenology of the early modern period, an alternative ontology wherein bodies, objects, and spaces are shaped through multiple, overlapping senses. Blending historical phenomenology with the emergent theory of cognitive ecology, I argue that Gloucester’s claim directs us toward a more nuanced understanding of the relationship between environment and embodiment in King Lear.


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