Bringing together eight previously published essays by M. W. Rowe and a substantial new study of Larkin, this book emphasizes the profound affinities between philosophy and literature. Ranging over Plato, Shakespeare, Goethe, Arnold and Wittgenstein, the first five essays explore an anti-theoretical conception of philosophy. This sees the subject as less concerned with abstract arguments that result in theories, than with prompts intended to induce clarity of vision and psychical harmony. On this understanding, philosophy looks more like literature than logic. Conversely, the last four essays argue that literature is centrally concerned with truth and abstract thought, and that literature is therefore a more cognitive and philosophical enterprise than is commonly supposed.
Contents: Preface; Goethe and Wittgenstein; Criticism without theory; Wittgenstein's romantic inheritance; Arnold and the socratic personality; The dissolution of goodness: Measure for Measure and classical ethics; Lamarque and Olsen on literature and truth; The definition of 'art'; Poetry and abstraction; Larkin's 'Aubade'; Bibliography; Index.