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The relation of Philosophy and Poetry.

 
 
Reply Wed 30 Sep, 2009 07:44 am
What are the relationships/similarities/differences between poetry and philosophy?

Cyracuz noted on another thread that 'philosophy is more akin to poetry than informational writing'.
This struck resonance with me, as did something my flatmate said yesterday when she was talking about her studies; 'philosophy and poetry are almost the same, although poetry is more about the aesthetic.'

Do any poets/philosophers on here have any opinions/ideas on the subject?
pq
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The Pentacle Queen
 
  1  
Reply Thu 1 Oct, 2009 04:11 pm
Really?
Are there no poets out there?
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 5 Oct, 2009 04:18 pm
@The Pentacle Queen,
Days are like grass the wind moves over:
first the wind & then the silence"
what cannot be said we must pass over
in silence, or play some music over
in our heads. Silently, a wind goes over
(we know from the motion of the grass).
Days are like grass; the wind goes over:
first the wind & then the silence.
~ J. Duemer, For Wittgenstein


The Wood and the Trees
fresco exploring sonnet form about five years ago

Walk with me along this childhood path.
Once thoughts were budding here like Sprin's array
That fir, as sapling knew my breath
And bent to the grasp of random play.

Here was the stream where Summer's heat
Trickled to cool beneath the tree
And stark stones sharp beneath my feet
Stippled the flow of eternity.

That which was supple, time binds firm
And that which was wide, to stricture grows.
Each junction of life invites our turn
But closes behind mind's dark hedgerows.

Youth's smiles and tears may betoken nought
Until life's path has its values wrought.

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fresco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 5 Oct, 2009 04:39 pm
@The Pentacle Queen,
pq
The similarities are that both seek freedom from the restraints of "ordinary language", yet both must establish a local structure/grammar/stylistic in order to convey a cohesive message. The difference is that poetry simultaneously operates at several levels by exploring the representitive plasticity of words. Ironically Wittgenstein identified "philosophical problems" as due to "language on holiday". I agree with him, but that is not my mood when I am wearing my philosopher's hat !

(NB typo "Sprin's" should be "Spring's")
The Pentacle Queen
 
  1  
Reply Tue 6 Oct, 2009 09:13 am
@fresco,
Thank you Fresco, and thanks also for your poem.

Does 'language on holiday' refer to it not doing the job it was 'meant for', or not correlating properly?
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 6 Oct, 2009 10:24 am
@The Pentacle Queen,
No. It means both using words idiosyncratically (like a poet), and also means metaphorical over-extension.

E.g In what I call " seminar philosophy" (as opposed to real life interactions )discussion may centre round celebrated "problems" like "how do we know John has a pain" . Part of that discussion might inolve the misuse of "have" as "possess" as of a thing or entity...and a discussion about "evidence" for that "possession" might ensue pointing out that there are no definitive physical correlates of such a "possession" which could in fact be faked. Wittgenstein might point out that all this is a pseudo-problem involving the false assumption that "having a pain" can be seperated from its context as a "statement of fact" for confirmation or otherwise. What actually matters in "real-life" is what we do next with John, "knowing him as we do". For Wittgenstein, language cannot be seperated from communicative relationships.

My italicising of know also implies an epistemological position in which "knowledge" is about "expectations" not "facts". ( I have not read enough Wittgenstein to know whether he would have agreed with me on this particular point Wink )

The pessimistic view of followers of Wittgenstein is that much of "philososophy" is at the best "therapy" and at worst "idle chatter".
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fresco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 6 Oct, 2009 10:38 am
@The Pentacle Queen,
Sorry. I forgot to clarify in all that that "language on holiday" was "language out of working context", from which you can draw your own inferences on "therapy" and "idle chatter"
aidan
 
  1  
Reply Tue 6 Oct, 2009 12:40 pm
@fresco,
I don't really understand the purpose of philosophy. Maybe there isn't one- maybe there doesn't need to be a purpose for anything - but I guess what I'm saying is that I don't seem to have a very philosophical bent to my personality because whenever I read philosophy it seems to me that it's always focused on the 'why' when for me, what always seems to grab my attention is the 'what' and the 'how'- because I react to most things either emotionally or pragmatically and very seldom purely analytically.
So the what and how are almost always more important than the why because I seem to be able to easily accept not knowing why (which is good - because we seldom ever do) - except when it comes to people and their motivation for doing things.

But that's what I love about poetry. Anyone can have their own 'what' and say it using their own methodology or 'how' they need or want to. And I can read whatever I want into it or read it however I choose. In that way, it seems almost the opposite to me than philosophy, which always seems very intent on parsing language and assigning meaning.

Many times what a poem means is secondary to me to the sound of the language. So in that way - yes - it's like language on holiday - it's just language being or sounding a certain way. And that is what I most love about poetry.

I liked your sonnet Fresco - the words you used - the sound of them. The image of the breath of your younger self on the sapling is wonderful.

This verse is lovely to read aloud- the sound of it is what I like most -

Here was the stream where Summer's heat
Trickled to cool beneath the tree
And stark stones sharp beneath my feet
Stippled the flow of eternity.

And in this verse, the meaning of the words outweigh the sound (in my opinion)

That which was supple, time binds firm
And that which was wide, to stricture grows.
Each junction of life invites our turn
But closes behind mind's dark hedgerows.

0 Replies
 
The Pentacle Queen
 
  1  
Reply Tue 6 Oct, 2009 03:24 pm
@fresco,
Ah o.k. I get it. Thank you.
Which is presumably why he wrote the Tractatus.
0 Replies
 
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 6 Oct, 2009 04:19 pm
Aidan,

The question of of "purpose" of anything is itself a philosophical issue !
And thankyou for those kind words about my poetic activities.

pq,

Wittgenstein's "language on holiday" comes from his later work "Philosophical Investigations" in which he overturned his earlier views in the "Tractatus". In the earlier work he thought that some Philosophy was viable taking a view of language as reflecting "a material world". In his later work he rejected "materiality" and other philosophical terms as "blind alleys".
The Pentacle Queen
 
  1  
Reply Wed 7 Oct, 2009 03:45 pm
@fresco,
Quote:
y poetic activities.

pq,

Wittgenstein's "language on holiday" comes from his later work "Philosophical Investigations" in which he overturned his earlier views in the "Tractatus". In the earlier work he thought that some Philosophy was viable taking a view of language as reflecting "a material world". In his later work he rejected "materiality" and other philosophical terms as "blind alleys".


Thanks.
I think I might lead it till later on to try and understand this more fully. Currently, me trying to understand Wittgenstein is just distorting Wittgenstein.
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Wed 7 Oct, 2009 04:47 pm
@The Pentacle Queen,
pq,

In the interim, just consider the contextual use of the word "ball" in rugby, as opposed to soccer. "Shape" gives way to function. Hence Wittgenstein's adage "Meaning is Use" which is applicable to all words and shifting contexts.

Crocodile Dundee gives my favorite example in the mugger scene.

PUNK MUGGER (brandishing stilletto): Give me your wallet.
DUNDEE: Why ?
GIRL: Mick, he's got a knife!
DUNDEE: That's not a knife ...(producing his large bush knife)...That's a knife !
0 Replies
 
Cyracuz
 
  2  
Reply Mon 12 Oct, 2009 10:30 am
Philosophy, as in the written texts left behind by thinkers, has little value to me. It is the process of thinking that is exciting. The texts available to us may open doors to possibilities we wouldn't neccecarily consider on our own, but learning what any "philosopher" thought about any given issue does not neccesarily mean that you understand the issue better or more profoundly.
You are not a philosopher on account of your education or what books you have read. You are a philosopher if you have an inquisitive mind and the ability to form and discard your own connections and ideas independently of what the majority of voices on the subject may tell you is the case.
The Pentacle Queen
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Oct, 2009 01:05 pm
@Cyracuz,
Yeah, I agree.
You can 'learn' philosophical ideas as facts but it isn't the same as having philosophical thoughts.
Normally the philosophical quotes or works I really appreciate are the ones that I have already thought, yet by the philosopher they have been put more succinctly.
Cyracuz
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Oct, 2009 02:04 pm
@The Pentacle Queen,
Yes, that is very often the case.
The ones percieved as great philosophers are often the great speakers.
But to any thought, the expressing of it in words is always it's greatest betrayal. That's why I feel poetry is a better forum for philosophy, since writing a poem is more like a tribute, while writing an informational text about something is to disect it.
The Pentacle Queen
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Oct, 2009 02:17 pm
@Cyracuz,
That's very interesting.
I'm not sure, but I think that I think in words more than anything else, so it's difficult for me to understand your last post.

Cyracuz, if I could ask you a favour, could you post some examples illustrating those points?
Or at least direct me to a poet or some poems you find particularly insightful or philosophical.
Cyracuz
 
  1  
Reply Mon 12 Oct, 2009 02:43 pm
@The Pentacle Queen,
Well, the thing with words is that in order to convey something you have to break it down.

Imagine watching a sunset that is so beautiful that it makes your emotions swell. Then afterwards try to write about it. Try to recreate the experience with words so that those who read it feel the same swelling of emotion. You would have to be quite the artist to manage that, and even then I do not think anyone would feel it unless they themseves had witnessed something similar, an experience to form a basis on which they could relate to your words.

And while you were writing, you could sit back and just let yourself be immersed in the memory. That could very well bring on the powerful emotions again. But focus too much on the telling of the experience, and the whole thing drowns in the words, the essence dwindles in the effort.
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