The Monist 66 (2):189-201 (1983)

Wittgenstein’s laconic observation about self and history elicits thought about the interventions of history into our private consciousness. Although “the world” may end with the end of my consciousness, I could hardly claim that my consciousness exhausts the world, or that there are no presences, realities, objects, and events that do not come into my consciousness from elsewhere, creating for me a distinct ever-present awareness of mine and other, inner and outer, recollection and recognition. A plaintive refrain, similar to that in Wittgenstein’s reflection, appears in much modern criticism that sets itself the task to understand and interpret works of art. Among such efforts there are theories whose main assumption is that a particular art, such as poetry, may indeed put forward a claim to the truth of an assertion, but it is not necessary to poetry as poetry that it asserts anything at all, and therefore it is irrelevant to poetry as poetry to be tested by reference to the world, to history, through the canons of verification and the principles of plausibility relevant to empirical inquiry. We might rewrite Wittgenstein’s aphorism this way: “What has poetry to do with the world? The poem is the first and only thing.”
Keywords Analytic Philosophy  Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest  Philosophy of Mind  Philosophy of Science
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ISBN(s) 0026-9662
DOI 10.5840/monist198366218
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