Show

Love, Poetry and Philosophy

Week of: 
September 30, 2007
What is it: 

For Plato, love and philosophy were closely related. Love of beauty causes one to contemplate the whole sea of beauties, including beautiful systems of justice and beautiful scientific theories. But Plato wasn't such a fan of poetry, arguing that it merely evoked strong emotions in a way contrary to reason. Noted poet Troy Jollimore, winner of the 2006 National Book Critics Circle Award, disagrees. He joins John and Ken for a spirited discussion of love, poetry, and philosophy, recorded live at Powell's City of Books in Portland, Oregon.

Listening Notes: 

In this episode of Philosophy Talk, Ken and John look at the similarities and differences between poetry and philosophy, and consider what the two have to say about love. John jokingly argues that poetry is all about the emotions while philosophy is about reason and truth. Ken counters, however, by arguing that much philosophy is expressed through poetry. And as can be seen by the guest Troy Jollimore, poetry is often inspired by philosophy. There is clearly an intimate relationship between the two regarding their content and what poetry and philosophy are seeking to understanding.  However, the beauty of poetry is not limited simply to the philosophical ideas it addresses.

Language is also a very important element of poetry. Troy discusses the process of writing poetry and figuring out the correct format and style for a poem, and how oftentimes the shape it takes becomes forced on him by the poem he’s writing. He also extols the benefits of being able to approach an idea that one is writing about in a more literary fashion than philosophy often does. He also argues that when poetry and philosophy are dealing with metaphor, they are essentially operating at a very similar level of analysis.
 
When further considering the differences between philosophy and poetry, the role of the emotions in reasoning is a distinguishing one. Troy discusses how a faith in our passions and the access they give us to the world can result in an understanding of issues which is as justifiable as that provided by the traditional ruminations of philosophy. While arguments and reasoning can be more hidden in poetry, they are present. At the same time, Troy notes that he invokes his philosophical talents to try and better understand the reasons behind emotions like love, should they exist. He challenges himself to explore philosophically what are typically poetic topics.

  • Roving Philosophical Report (seek to 00:04:46): Zoe Corneli speaks to Chris Fatz—poetry buyer at Powell’s City of Books in Portland Oregon—to discuss the importance of poetry in our lives. He sees a “religious” importance to poetry, where it allows us to articulate the moral sense that lies in humans. He believes it informs the way we live and helps us live better by adding meaning to our experience. He expresses his sentiment that you do not have to be a poet to love and appreciate poetry.

Troy Jollimore, Professor of Philosophy, California State University Chico

Bonus Content: 

 

EXTENDED INTERVIEW with Chris Fatz, Poetry Buyer at Powell's City of Books

Related Resources: 

Asmis, Elizabeth.  "Plato on Poetic Creativity."  The Cambridge Companion to Plato.   Ed. Richard Kraut.  Cambridge University Press,  1992.  Cambridge Collections Online.  Cambridge University Press.  22 December 2007.
Danto, Arthur C. “Philosophy as/and/of Literature”. Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association, Vol. 58, No. 1. (Sep., 1984), pp. 5-20.
Griswold, Charles. Plato on Rhetoric and Poetry. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Gould, Thomas. The Ancient Quarrel Between Poetry and Philosophy.
Jollimore, Troy. Tom Thomson in Purgatory.
Levin, Susan B. The Ancient Quarrel Between Philosophy and Poetry Revisited: Plato and the Greek Literary Tradition.
Putnam, Ruth Ann and Hilary. “The Quarrel between Poetry and Philosophy”.
Sampson, Kristin. “Poetry and Philosophy” Website.
Santayana, George. Three Philosophical Poets: Lucretius, Dante And Goethe.
Verdicchio, Massimo and Burch, Robert. Between Philosophy and Poetry: Writing, Rhythm, History.

Get Philosophy Talk

Radio

Sunday at 10am, PST, KALW, 91.7 FM, Local Public Radio, San Francisco

Podcast

Individual Downloads  via CdBaby or Itunes.  Multipacks and The Complete Philosophy Talk via Iamplify

John Perry and Ken Taylor

Continue the Conversation

Sidebar Menu

Upcoming Shows

  • November 2 : The Fairness Fixation
    Imagine that your eight-year-old son arrives home boasting that he won the race that day in gym class. Right as your heart begins to swell with pride...
  • November 9 : Identities Lost & Found in a Global Age
    Throughout human history, people have tended to live and die in the place they're born. Place is an important part of identity. But what happens when...
  • November 16 : Transformative Experiences
    We are faced with decisions all the time in life. Normally, we think about the possible outcomes and chose a course of action that matches what we...
  • November 23 : Gun Control
    The right to bear arms, as guaranteed by the Second Amendment, is at once both distinctly American and highly controversial. Incidents such as the...
  • November 30 : Hypocrisy
    Hypocrites believe one thing, but do another. Jefferson opposed slavery, but owned slaves. Jesus professed universal love, but cursed an innocent fig...

Support Philosophy Talk

DONATE TODAY

Philosophy Talk relies on the support of listeners like you to stay on the air and online. Any contribution, large or small, helps us produce intelligent, reflective radio that questions everything, including our most deeply-held beliefs about science, morality, culture, and the human condition. Make your tax-deductible contribution now through Stanford University's secure online donation page. Thank you for your support, and thank you for thinking!