Saturday, January 26, 2008

"Philosophical Poets," Forum for European Philosophy and Centre for Philosophy and Literature, University of Sussex, February 9, 2008.

PHILOSOPHICAL POETS draws inspiration from Three Philosophical Poets, the 1910 volume in which George Santayana discussed Lucretius, Dante and Goethe. Our presentations and panel discussion on modern poets will explore different ways that poets can be philosophical poets, that poetry can be seen as philosophy and that philosophical and poetic analysis can be related in understanding the works of the featured poets. We shall have readings of some of the poems we discuss in English and the original language. Speakers: Professor Angela Livingstone, University of Essex BORIS PASTERNAK: WHAT IS ART IF NOT PHILOSOPHY IN A STATE OF ECSTASY? Taking Pasternak to be, not so much a writer of philosophical poetry, as aphilosophical person who wrote poetry, I shall refer to his poems and hispoetic prose up to about 1930, shall look at his ideas about the origin ofpoetry in life, and shall try to identify his affinities both with thephilosopher Hermann Cohen and with the poet Pasternak admired above all others,Rainer Maria Rilke. Professor Joe Friggieri, University of Malta MONTALE'S METAPHYSICS Poetry resembles philosophy in that both are ways of directing the mind to a better apprehension of some aspect of human experience. The best poets, like the best philosophers, present us with some kind of overall view of the world and of our place in it. In different ways, they call our attention to those features of existence which we tend to lose sight of in our everyday interaction with things. It has been said that a philosophy unaware of mystery would not be a philosophy at all, and that poetry always involves some kind of revelation. This is particularly true of the works of Eugenio Montale, which may be seen as an attempt to deal with the mystery at the heart of existence and at the way the world presents itself to us, expressing a metaphysics in poetic terms. In my talk I will look at the kind of vision emerging from Eugenio Montale's poetic works and the special devices the poet uses to convey it. I will do that through a close reading of three poems, one from each of Montale's main collections: Ossi di seppia, Le Occasioni and La bufera e altro. Hilary Lawson THE POETIC STRATEGY Is poetry capable of approaching a truth which lies beyond the grasp of literal meaning? In the face of the perceived failure of the literal to describe the nature of the world, philosophers, from Heidegger to Rorty, have been tempted by poetry as a possible alternative strategy. What however is the poetic strategy capable of delivering? If poetry avoids saying something in particular how is it capable of saying anything at all? Using TS Eliot's Quartets as a focus I will explore the potential and the limits of such a strategy and outline some consequences for our understanding of language and the world. Professor Simon Critchley, New School for Social Research A FEW POEMS BY FERNANDO PESSOA, ONE BY WALLACE STEVENS AND A BRIEF SKETCH OF A POETIC ONTOLOGY I have two simple, but tricky questions: What does it mean to see poetically? and What might the poet's descriptions of the surfaces of things imply for our relation to things, ourselves and the world? Building on the words of Fernando Pessoa's major heteronym, Alberto Caeiro and a late poem by Wallace Stevens 'Description without Place', I will try and sketch a poetic ontology. APPROACHES TO PHILOSOPHICAL POETRY: PANEL DISCUSSION & QUESTIONS Dr. Nicholas Bunnin University of Oxford, Chair Further information about the Forum for European Philosophy can be found on the website: Further information about the Centre for Literature and Philosophy can be found on the website Conference details are posted at these websites. To book a place, contact: Katerina Deligiorgi

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