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Poetic Thinking 2016 | February 27, 2020

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Philosophy and Thinking

Philosophy and Thinking
Pensiero Liquido

This is a passage from Wittgenstein’s Zettel:


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Maybe of use in our thinking of the nature of thinking.

What role, if any, can philosophy play in poetic thinking? What are the knots? And if the task of philosophy is to untie the knots, is there still space for creation in philosophy?


  1. Scott Weiss

    Oakeshott wanted to divorce philosophical and poetic utterances, but I think your post points to a way in which the two may speak to one another. To pursue the knot metaphor, perhaps philosophic thinking disentangles knots while poetic thinking ties them into further complications.

  2. Vivian Lam

    I am vaguely reminded of a chapter in Heidegger’s On Time and Being, “The Death of Philosophy and the Task of Thinking,” and his interpretation of “aletheia,” or unconcealment. Connects well with the Greek temple analogy–light in a forest presupposes an opening, as of untying knots. But perhaps the act of untying knots is itself an act of creation?

    Your point, Scott, is very interesting. Maybe these two kinds of thinking need not be mutually exclusive (to go as far to say that they can be interchangeable)?

  3. I have been told I might like Wittgenstein, and your brief excerpt points me to thinking this might be true. I am continually quite interested in what philosophy explores, but so often its complicatedness causes me to give up before I get very far. I’m not sure if it’s a lack of skill or practice, or both. Or if I just too badly want things to be black and white, to be simple.

    Which makes me think about your question. One way we’ve been conceiving of poetic thinking is as an opening up, a creating of space, a temple. Almost creating something out of nothing. In my mind’s eye, I’ve always thought of this as a “simple” place, but of course this isn’t always the case. Arendt’s staircase does not necessarily take us somewhere simple. But I guess what I’m getting at is the image of the unraveling of a knot kind of works with this idea. Philosophy has to be as complicated as the knot it unties, but once it’s untied (to the extent this is ever possible), an expanse of rope exists where the knot used to be; the rope has been, in a way, created. So I guess I’m mostly echoing Vivian here.

    Philosophy seems like a very creative act to me. I am also intrigued by Scott’s hypothesis that poetic thinking ties them into further complications. But does this mean that poetic thinking doesn’t ever clarify? Or does it add further complexity to existence, which then creates gaps that become knots?

  4. Scott Weiss

    I would say that the simple spaces that poetic thinking may construct are often more complex than they appear. I think Qohelet and the aphorisms we read fall into that category. I also think that philosophy can at times appear to make things seem simple but in reality only reveals greater complexity. Platonic dialogues often do this when Socrates and his interlocutor step by step break down a problem only to arrive at aporia and the realization that they cannot reach the solution.

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