Test: ISEE Upper Level Reading

"Poetry and Philosophy" by Justin Bailey

As the logical positivism rose to ascendancy, poetic language was increasingly seen as merely emotive. Wittgenstein’s influential Tractatus argued that only language corresponding to observable states of affairs in the world was meaningful, thus ruling out the value of imaginative language in saying anything about the world. Poetry’s contribution was rather that it showed what could not be said, a layer of reality which Wittgenstein called the “mystical.” Despite Wittgenstein’s interest in the mystical value of poetry, his successors abandoned the mystical as a meaningful category, exiling poetry in a sort of no man’s land where its only power to move came through the empathy of shared feeling.

Yet some thinkers, like Martin Heidegger, reacted strongly to the pretensions of an instrumental theory of knowledge to make sense of the world. Heidegger, Hans-Georg Gadamer and Paul Ricoeur all gave central value to poetry in their philosophical method; signifying a growing sense among continental thinkers that poetic knowing was an important key to recovering some vital way of talking about and experiencing the world that had been lost.


It can be inferred from the passage that __________.

poetry's power to move through empathetic feeling signifies that its claims about the world are true

philosophers agree that instrumental theories of knowledge are sufficient in understanding the world

most positivists followed Wittgenstein in arguing for poetic knowledge as a meaningful category in philosophy

some of Wittgenstein's successors used his work to exclude something that was important to Wittgenstein

Heidegger's complaint was that philosophers were taking poetic language too seriously in their philosophical method

1/3 questions


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