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Pragmatism with PurposeSelected Writings$
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Peter Hare, Joseph Palencik, Douglas Anderson, and Steven A. Miller

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780823264322

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823264322.001.0001

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What Are Poets for? Contextualism and Pragmatism

What Are Poets for? Contextualism and Pragmatism

Chapter:
(p.209) Fourteen What Are Poets for? Contextualism and Pragmatism
Source:
Pragmatism with Purpose
Author(s):

Peter Hare

Publisher:
Fordham University Press
DOI:10.5422/fordham/9780823264322.003.0014

This chapter addresses the question “What are poets for?” by relating poetry to contextualism and pragmatism. Plato offers an account of what he perceives as the pernicious function of poetry: that poetry does dreadful harm to its audience by fueling the nonrational parts of the soul. Cultural contexts in which poetry has such a disfunction are entirely conceivable. The Greek view of poetry before Plato was that poets sometimes function as moral authorities. This chapter rejects the view that in our postmodern world all serious poetry must be difficult to decode and argues that a function for poetry cannot be context-neutral. It concludes by offering some suggestions on how modernist and postmodernist poetry might function within the context of pragmatist epistemology.

Keywords:   poets, poetry, contextualism, pragmatism, Plato, pragmatist epistemology

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