Sunday, 12 July 2015 20:00

6. Thought and Poetry in Philosophical Practice

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I would like to add some reflections to the string Philosophical Practice and Canonical Texts initiated by Manos Perrakis. Perrakis maintains that literature may be a source of inspiration for the philosophical practice. In fact, there are novels which present characters who provide, either explicitly or implicitly, philosophical teachings, and poems which express through images and metaphors philosophical thoughts or truths.

Therefore narrative and poetry deserve a relevant place on the working desk of the philosophical practitioner. Furthermore, the past philosophers who prove to be more inspiring and are mostly referred to by contemporary philosophical practitioners are not so much the authors of systematic treatises, as those who expressed their ideas and visions of the world by means of various literary forms (to name but a few examples: Plato's dialogues, Seneca's letters, Marcus Aurelius' Meditations, Montaigne's unsystematic Essays, Pascal's Thoughts, up to the magnificent prose of Schopenhauer and the aphoristic style of Nietzsche).

As George Steiner claims in his essay The Poetry of Thought - where he retraces the history of Western philosophy focusing on the essential relationship of thought and language, philosophy and poetry - "Born of poetry, philosophy will at the end of time return 'to the great ocean of poetry'". If Wittgenstein's programmatic statement, according to which "Philosophy is not a theory but an activity" (Tractatus, 4.112) is to be realized by contemporary philosophical practice, it would be most fruitful to go back to the poetical sources of philosophical thought, as well as to the original oral tradition of philosophy.

Therefore, while the dialogue – performed by several philosophical practitioners – enacts orality, fosters spontaneity and establishes human relationships, the enhancement of what Heidegger called "thought as poetry, poetry as thought" ("das dichtende Denken, die denkende Dichtung") may help to rediscover a language which, beyond the technicalities understandable only by the specialists, may be universally shareable and may bring philosophy back to the daily life of human beings.

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Silvia Schwarz

I am a scholar in Indology. My main interests lie in the Tantric religious traditions of medieval India. In addition to publishing a book and articles on these topics, I have also produced translations for the general reader of texts from the Sanskrit narrative and devotional literature. I obtained a PhD in South Asian Studies from the University of Vienna.

I am interested in philosophical practice and I am presently concluding a Masters degree in Philosophical Counselling at Ca' Foscari, the University of Venice."