Poetry and Philosophy: A Study in the Thought of John Stuart Mill

Poetry and Philosophy: A Study in the Thought of John Stuart Mill

Poetry and Philosophy: A Study in the Thought of John Stuart Mill

Poetry and Philosophy: A Study in the Thought of John Stuart Mill

Excerpt

This book is an attempt to define the influence that poets and their poetry have on philosophers and their philosophy. A test case -- that of John Stuart Mill, who, by his own admission, was much influenced by Wordsworth -- has been chosen, to see if any acceptable generalizations may be drawn from it.

Being neither a poet nor a philosopher, I cannot guarantee that the results will be satisfactory to either. I have undertaken the subject, because no one else has tried his hand at it. I can only quote, in mitigation, the words of John Graunt in the preface of his Natural and Political Observations Mentioned in a following Index, and made upon the Bills of Mortality (1662):

'How far I have succeeded in the Premisses, I now offer to the World's censure. Who, I hope, will not expect from me, not professing Letters, things demonstrated with the same certainty, wherewith Learned men determine in their Scholes; but will take it well, that I should offer at a new thing, and could forbear presuming to meddle where any of the Learned Pens have ever touched before, and that I have taken the pains, and been at the charge, of setting out those Tables, whereby all men may both correct my Positions, and raise others of their . . .

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