London Aesthetics Forum (Institute of Philosophy)
Recent attempts within Anglo-American aesthetics to delineate an intellectually fruitful relationship between philosophy and literature are usually proposed as compensatory epistemologies: literature overcomes limitations built into the traditional modes whereby philosophers construe knowledge- claims. But what if a major work of literature—as is the case in John Milton’s Paradise Lost—explicitly rejects philosophy’s objectives, holding that philosophy is implicated in the pursuit of a corrupt and unworthy form of knowing? From such a stance, philosophy’s shortcoming is — ironically — philosophical: if one genuinely seeks understanding, philosophy would send one down the wrong track. Poetry of such kind does not invite philosophers of literature to somehow harmonize the philosophy-literature divide. Instead, one is required to sharpen the philosophy-poetry disjunction, clarifying the stakes involved in keeping apart these distinct attitudes to acquiring knowledge, to leading a meaningful existence, and to the non-obvious relationships between these objectives..
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The London Aesthetics Forum (Institute of Philosophy) is generously supported by the British Society of Aesthetics