The subject of this three-part project is poetry. More specifically, the project is a collection of thoughts about poetry, the language of poetry, and poetry-as-philosophy.

In its introductory section can be found a description of two competing accounts of language: referent theory, and meaning-is-use. While the latter seems a more complete picture on the whole, or so I assert, one must wonder: does it account for all the ways we use language? Specifically, can it account for the language of our main subject—poetry?

I assert not. In this vein, the second part of the project attempts to do what I claim should not be done by asking three questions of the language of poetry; namely, whether or not the sentences in poetry are statements, whether or not they can be bearers of truth-value, and whether or not they are meaningful. The chapter concludes with the claim that to ask these questions is to misunderstand the nature of poetry. Instead of asking these questions of poetry, I suggest that we might instead ask ourselves if perhaps we aren’t mistaken about what these sorts of questions may accomplish—and not just in connection with poetry.

In the project’s third section, I ask, “When it comes to philosophy, is it possible that our current methodology does not actually serve the purpose it was designed for? Or could it be that this purpose is itself misguided?” In this chapter I assert the latter and consider an alternate methodology, affirming that we should think of poetry as philosophy. The project concludes with an appendix that attempts to demonstrate the practice of, “Showing, Not Saying.”


Hustwit, Ronald E.




Other Philosophy | Philosophy of Language


Philosophy, Philosophy of Language, Language, Poetry

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis Exemplar



© Copyright 2016 Alexandra B. Gustafson