Philosophy must embrace poetry

How poetry captures the difficulty of reality

In an era where poetry is often dismissed as inaccessible and disconnected from everyday life, John Gibson challenges these assumptions. He argues that the enigmatic nature of poetry is not so different to that of philosophy. By contending with the complexity of poetry, we might be able to grapple with the difficulties of reality.


I recently assigned John Ashbery’s poem ‘Self Portrait in a Convex Mirror’ in a philosophy course I am teaching on theories of the self. I assured the students that the poem would dramatize a point about what the philosopher Peter Goldie called ‘the mess inside.’ The mess is a matter of many things, but, in good part, it resides in the chaos of the often contradictory desires, anxieties, wants, beliefs,

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