Sunday, April 8, 2012

Lunch Chat (4/12): Poetry as a Way of Knowing

"Do not forget that a poem, although it is composed in the language of information, is not used in the language-game of giving information."
So claimed Ludwig Wittgenstein, in his Zettel, but was he right? Does this mean that poetry does not (or even cannot) count as a way of increasing our knowledge of the world?

This week for our lunch chat, I thought we could talk about a suite of issues discussed on the recent episode of "Philosophy Talk" about whether poetry offers us a distinctive "way of knowing."

"Philosophy Talk", if you haven't heard it before, is a radio program and podcast hosted by two eminent Stanford University philosophers, John Perry and Ken Taylor who take on different topics each week (either from a studio or in front of a live audience), host expert guests, and take questions from callers or audience members. Their motto is that it's "the program that questions everything . . . except your intelligence!" They're well worth listening to and the previous week's stream is always free on their website.

This particular program — recorded live — hosts Jane Hirshfield, a poet who has some interesting things to say about how poetry can contribute to knowledge. If you don't have time to listen to the program, you might instead check out their introductory blog post.