The Philosophy of Poetry

ISBN : 9780199603671

John Gibson
272 Pages
160 x 227 mm
Pub date
May 2015
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In recent years philosophers have produced important books on nearly all the major arts: the novel and painting, music and theatre, dance and architecture, conceptual art and even gardening. Poetry is the sole exception. This is an astonishing omission, one this collection of original essays will correct. If contemporary philosophy still regards metaphors such as 'Juliet is the sun' as a serious problem, one has an acute sense of how prepared it is to make philosophical and aesthetic sense of poems such W. B. Yeats's 'The Second Coming', Sylvia Plath's 'Daddy', or Paul Celan's 'Todesfuge'. The Philosophy of Poetry brings together philosophers of art, language, and mind to expose and address the array of problems poetry raises for philosophy. In doing so it lays the foundation for a proper philosophy of poetry, setting out the various puzzles and paradoxes that future work in the field will have to address. Given its breadth of approach, the volume is relevant not only to aesthetics but to all areas of philosophy concerned with meaning, truth, and the communicative and expressive powers of language more generally. Poetry is the last unexplored frontier in contemporary analytic aesthetics, and this volume offers a powerful demonstration of how central poetry should be to philosophy.


1. Semantic Finegrainedness and Poetic Value
2. The Dense and the Transparent: Reconciling Opposites
3. Poetic Opacity: How to Paint Things with Words
4. Unreadable Poems and How They Mean
5. Can an Analytic Philosopher Read Poetry?
6. The Spoken and the Written: An Ontology of Poetic Works
7. Poetry & Truth
8. Poetry's Knowing: So What Do We Know?
9. Celan's Song: Pictures, Poetry, and Epistemic Value
10. The Inner Paradise
11. 'To Think Exactly and Courageously': Poetry, Ingeborg Bachmann's Poetics, and her Bohemia Poem

About the author: 

John Gibson is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Louisville. His research focuses on topics in the philosophy of literature and aesthetics. He is the author of Fiction and the Weave of Life (OUP, 2007) and coeditor of Narrative, Emotion and Insight (Pennsylvania State University Press, 2011), The Literary Wittgenstein (Routledge, 2004), A Sense of The World: Essays on Fiction, Narrative, and Knowledge (Routledge, 2007), and the forthcoming The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Literature. He is currently working on a manuscript titled Poetry, Metaphor, and Nonsense: An Essay on Meaning.

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