Ethical Estrangement: Pictures, Poetry and Epistemic Value

In John Gibson (ed.), The Philosophy of Poetry. Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press (2015)
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This chapter explores the cognitive and moral significance of the kind of imaginative experience poetry offers. It identifies two forms of imaginative experience that are especially important to poetry: ‘experiencing-as’ and ‘experience-taking’. Experiencing-as is ‘inherently first-personal, embodied, and phenomenologically characterized’ while in experience-taking one ‘takes the perspective of another, simulating some aspect or aspects of his psychology as if they were his own’. Through a sensitive and probing reading of Paul Celan’s Psalm, the chapter shows the role these two forms of experience play in producing the unique form of ethical and epistemic value poetry can bear. The chapter’s argument for this has important implications for our understanding of the poetic imagination and nature of our experience of meaning in poetic contexts.

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Alison Denham
University of Oxford


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