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Dewey, Gadamer and the Status of Poetry Among the Arts

 (forthcoming in a volume on Dewey and Continental Philosophy edited by Paul Fairfield)

When Alcuin argued for the artes liberales in the Carolingian court, three things kept poetry from finding a distinctive place: Plato's concerns about the corruptive power of poetry; poesis—"making"—suggesting poetry belonged to the mechanical rather than liberal arts; and the Pythagorean mathematicization of music. Through the middle ages, the best poetry could hope for was a place under the category of rhetoric; though, since it was then seen as oriented only to pleasure, the Medieval Church shared Plato's suspicions. So, when poetry took off in the 14th century it's not surprising that something so connected to both language and music should seem to transcend the split between the trivium (grammar, rhetoric, and logic) and quadrivium (arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music). When Leonardo da Vinci in 1490 argued that painting not only belongs among the liberal arts, but is the highest of the arts, it was music and poetry—one the master of invisible things, the other the master of visible things—he sought to dethrone. Poetry was no longer a tool of rhetoric, but an art of first rank, and the nature of music lie in its emotional power, not in mathematical relations.

               Leonardo's arguments never caught on, but the link between poetry and music has been often repeated, as has been their status as the highest of the arts. In the 19th century G.F.W. Hegel called poetry "the universal art of the mind."[1] It "runs though all the arts" and is art's "highest phase," one phase higher than music. Arthur Schopenhauer inverted the priority: poetry is "the true mirror of the real nature of the world and life,"[2] but music, since it speaks directly to the will unmediated by ideas, is the "most powerful of all the arts."[3] A young John Dewey wrote "The various fine arts, architecture, sculpture, painting, music and poetry are the successive attempts of the mind to adequately express its own ideal nature, or, more correctly stated, adequately to produce that which will satisfy its own demands for a love of a perfectly harmonious nature, something in which admiration may rest."[4] The ordering of the arts is not accidental; poetry is above music, especially dramatic poetry, as it "consummates…the range of fine arts, because in dramatic form we have the highest ideal of self, personality displaying itself in the form of personality … beyond this art cannot go."[5] Forty years later in Art and Experience Dewey returns to the idea of ranking the arts, but by then his views had changed. He presents the very fact that Schopenhauer even thought to rank the arts as evidence of "a complete failure of philosophy to meet the challenge that art offers reflective thought."[6] By 1931 Dewey is no longer willing to give any art form pride of place among the arts.
               The question I want to take up is the place of poetry in the arts: specifically does it hold pride of place either as the telos of art, or the essence of art, or at least as deserving special consideration among the arts. I will look at Dewey's theory of poetry and how he argues that it does not hold a philosophically distinctive place and contrast it with Hans-Georg Gadamer's theory about "the essential priority of poetry with respect to the other arts."[7] Martin Heidegger may have expressed the view most dramatically when he claimed that "the essence of art is poetry"[8] but, as in so many other cases, it is Gadamer who fully articulates it and locates it in the history of philosophy. Finally I will argue with Gadamer that poetry does have a distinctive place among the arts, and poetry is particularly useful for helping us understand the arts in general. The key to this argument is seeing that language, especially poetic language, is not first a foremost a tool, not even, as Dewey writes, the "tool of tools."[9]


I. Dewey's Understanding of Poetry among the Arts


Of course what Dewey is known most for is arguing against distinguishing art from other areas of life. In Art as Experience it is the continuity among the arts, and above all the continuity of aesthetic experience and everyday experience, that takes the fore. He argues that were we to understand life as practical through and through, as we should, "then would disappear the separations that trouble present thinking: division of everything into nature and experience, of experience in practice and theory, art and science, or art into useful and fine, menial and free."[10] Poetry can be analyzed separately from the other arts, but for the Dewey of Art and Experience is holds no special status among the arts. His emphasis is always on the connections between all the arts and experience.

Dewey sees the distinction between fine art and useful art as falling away once we realize the common anthropological roots of the two categories. The role of fine art always arises within the practical needs of life; it does not transcend them. All arts develop in order to emotionally mark significant objects or experiences to enable them to be better communicated across people and over time. Therefore, with respect to poetry, Dewey says "words serve their poetic purpose in the degree in which they summon and evoke into active operation the vital responses that are present whenever we experience qualities."[11] The qualities of an experience are those that provide the unity to the experience; poetry becomes a way to communicate these qualities, in the process generating an experience. As a result poetry brings to attention features of the experience that may be particularly useful for our ongoing adaptation to our environment. It is "the emotional kindling of reality, which is the true province of poetry;"[12] poetry "radiates the light that never was on land and sea but that henceforth is an abiding illumination of objects."[13] Of course this same illuminating and attention-grabbing function might be played by prose as well as poetry; the difference between the two is that:

One of them [prose] realizes the power of words to express what is in heaven and earth and under the seas by means of extension; the other [poetry] by intension. The prosaic is an affair of description and narration, of details accumulated and relations elaborated. It spreads as it goes like a legal document or catalogue. The poetic reverses the process. It condenses and abbreviates, thus giving words an energy of expansion that is almost explosive.[14]


It is its energy—especially its spontaneous energy—that gives poetry its significant character as art and distinguishes it from prose, but for Dewey it shares that energy with other performance arts: dance, theater and music.

What Dewey seeks to avoid are two extremes: that poetry is straightforwardly referential and that poetry is wholly unrelated to truth.  Poetry, as art, "communicates because it is expressive" not because it is linguistic.

It enables us to share vividly and deeply in meanings to which we had been dumb, or for which we had but the ear that permits what is said to pass through in transit to overt action. For communication is not announcing things, even if they are said with the emphasis of great sonority. Communication is the process of creating participation, of making common what had been isolated and singular; and part of the miracle it achieves is that, in being communicated, the conveyance of meaning gives body and definiteness to the experience of the one who utters as well as to that of those who listen.[15]

The emotional qualities of the poem, not the referential properties of the words, create an experience for the reader or listener. Still, Dewey's is not a purely non-cognitive account of poetry and art. It is not simply that poetry has its domain of emotions and metaphors, while science and inquiry have their domain of truth. The emotional quality of a poem communicates an experience of an idea or a thing—it communicates the same world that science and inquiry communicates, otherwise poetry could not connect to action.

In his early more Hegelian phase he wrote, "The great power of poetry to stay and to console—a power which neither [Matthew] Arnold nor any other critic can exaggerate one whit—is just because of the truth, the rendering of the reality of affairs, which poetry gives us. The importance and the endurance of poetry, as of all art, [is] in its hold upon reality."[16] As experience is always at the same time emotional and intellectual, often undifferentiably so, its content is never merely a subjective reaction, but an active interaction with our environment revealing things about our environment in the process.

[E]sthetic and moral experience reveal traits of real things as truly as does intellectual experience, that poetry may have a metaphysical import as well as science, is rarely affirmed, and when it is asserted, the statement is likely to be meant in some mystical or esoteric sense rather than in a straightforward everyday sense.[17]


For Dewey, poetry straightforwardly "reveal[s] traits of real things." What makes a poem powerful as a work of art may be its emotional quality, but this is not at the expense of generating insights for inquiry; still it reveals in a different way than do science or philosophy.  Dewey writes: "if the advantage in directness and universality of appeal, in wealth and passionateness of garb, is upon the side of poetry, let us remember that, after all, the advantage upon the side of method and standard are with the side of science and philosophy."[18] Poetry may be able to speak with greater passion and greater universality, but it in the end its appeal as art is emotional—in this way Dewey can bridge the dichotomy between poetry functioning purely intellectually and poetry functioning purely emotionally.[19]

               For all this about poetry, we really haven't gone beyond what Dewey says about art in general. At the heart of Dewey's aesthetic theory is "recovering the continuity of aesthetic experience with normal processes of living."[20] All art is created with the goal of generating a single coherent aesthetic experience and all aesthetic experience includes intellectual, emotional and practical elements—art generates insights for inquiry, communicates emotions, and guides interaction with our environment. In Art and Experience Dewey is blunt about his focus on the continuity of aesthetic forms and his disdain for distinctions among the arts. He writes,

William James remarked on the tediousness of elaborate classifications of things that merge and vary, as do human emotions. Attempts at precise and systematic classification of fine arts seem to me to share this tediousness. An enumerative classification is convenient and for purposes of easy reference indispensable. But a cataloguing like painting, statuary, poetry, drama, dancing, landscape gardening, architecture, singing, musical instrumentation, etc., etc., makes no pretense to throwing any light on the intrinsic nature of the things listed. It leaves that illumination to come from the only place that it can come from—individual works of art. Rigid classifications are inept (if they are taken seriously) because they distract attention from that which is esthetically basic—the qualitatively unique and integral character of experience of an art product.[21]


Distinctions are only useful to the extent they draw our attention to what is aesthetically relevant in the experience of a work of art; but what is most relevant is that "art, in its form, unites the very same relation of doing and undergoing, outgoing and incoming energy, that makes an experience be an experience."[22] So although there are differences between poetry and other arts, they are not differences that make a difference, and no art form assumes an elevated status about others. Poetry is neither the telos of art, nor the essence of art, not even exemplary among the arts.


II. Gadamer's Elevation of Poetry among the Arts.


Gadamer regularly claims that the distinctive feature of poetry is its autonomy. By this he means that poems "interpret themselves insofar as one need no additional information about the occasion and the historical circumstances of their composition."[23] Gadamer is not denying that our interpretation of a poem does not draw on our particular cultural, historical, and personal backgrounds—all interpretation is shaped by our facticity; indeed for Gadamer it is only because we are finite that poems can become intelligible—rather the claim of autonomy connects three related ideas. First, poetry, like all language and all art, transcends the context of its origins. When we put our thoughts into words, we make open the possibility the meaningfulness of the words will outlast us and our thoughts. Unlike most prose, though, a poem stands alone as a unitary object to be interpreted in its uniqueness. Any additional information about the author or the context of its creation are only legitimate tools of interpretation to the extent the poem itself bears that interpretation; but even then, additional information only provides mere clues to the ideality of the poem, it never constitutes the poem's meaning. That the meaning of the poem is not reducible to the intentions of the poet is the second feature of autonomy, for Gadamer. The third is that the poem speaks for itself; the meaning of a poem will not be captured in prose, in other poems, or even, as someone might suggest, through other artistic mediums. The poem is the best expression of its meaning, and no interpretation will exhaust what it has to say. One way to think of Gadamer's autonomy claim is as a three-fold denial of irreducibility: the meaning of the work of art is not reducible to its historical and cultural origin, to its creator's intentions, nor to expression in another medium, including prose.

               One extremely significant consequence of the autonomy of poetry is that, for Gadamer and in contrast to Dewey, poetry is not first and foremost a kind of communication. Dewey argues that a poem is successful if there is a connection between the emotions of the artist and the emotions of the reader; at its heart, then, the poem functions as a medium for emotional communication. For Gadamer the poem stands on its own; its meaning is its own, rather than it being a vehicle for its author's meaning. As he puts it, poetry doesn't report, it testifies; it stands on its words.[24]

               To flesh out the meaning of poetry's autonomy Gadamer appropriates Paul Valéry's currency metaphor. Everyday prose is like paper money: it is purely symbolic and its value comes from its ability to be substituted and exchanged for objects. Poetry is like a gold coin, useful for exchange of course, but valuable in its own right, even after the images on the coin marking it as currency have worn off.

[Everyday] language never stands for itself. It stands for something we encounter in the practical activities of life or in scientific experience, and it is in this context that the views we express prove themselves of fail to do so. Words do not ‘stand' on their own account. Whether they are spoken or written, their meaning is only fully realized in the context of life. Valéry contrasted the poetic word with the everyday use of language in a striking comparison that alludes to the old days of the gold standard: everyday language resembles small change which, like our paper money does not actually posses the value it symbolizes.  The famous gold coins used before the First World War, on the other hand, actually possessed as metal the value that was imprinted upon them. In a similar way the language of poetry is not a mere pointer that refers to something else, but, like the gold coin, is what it represents.[25]


Gadamer's point here is that in poetry the words have an intrinsic value that doesn't vanish in their meaning. Poetry does not lose its textual presence in revealing what it reveals. Whatever insights we may gain from a poem, the poetic words retain their power to reveal and also show the potential for further interpretations. We recognize when reading a poem that it is these words, these sounds, that are producing the effect, and unless the poem is particularly mundane, it is only because of these words that the poem has the effect it has. That the meaning of a poem doesn't leave the words behind is part of its autonomy. Along the same lines, Gadamer points out that no poems are every really translated. What happens instead is new poems are written in a new language that tries to capture the power and meaning of the original poem—this is why the best translators of poems are poets themselves. However, the translation is always a separate poem, autonomous as well.

               Finally, to add to Gadamer's account of poetry as autonomous, consider what we do when we interpret a work of art. We seek to make the meaning explicit by finding words that best express what the work expresses. We try to match the subject matter as revealed by the work of art with the subject matter as revealed by our own words—we don't expect perfect success in this project, but we don't let our limitations leave us inarticulate either. In poetry this situation is changed slightly, but significantly. We already have words expressing the subject matter of the work—the poem itself—and we seek new words to express the subject matter in the same way. The activity of interpreting a poem is not one of becoming articulate about what is expressed by the poem, but of translating the meaning of the poem into prose. But no translation of the meaning of the poem could express the meaning as well as the poem—the best expression in language of the meaning of the poem is the poem itself. So the process of interpreting a poem is not one of finding new words to express the poem's meaning, but finding our way into the meaning of the poem's own words. The words of the poem are irreplaceable in an interpretation; this is the core meaning of Gadamer's claim that poetry is autonomous, and its status as such gives it an "essential priority" with respect to other art forms.


III. Poetic Language


I think Gadamer is right that poetry deserves special consideration among the arts. I am not going to engage in or endorse the project of ranking the arts, but I do believe that thinking about the uniqueness of poetry helps us to understand general truths about the arts. Something like this is Gadamer's view as well. Let me start by pointing out that both Dewey and Gadamer are "response" theorists in philosophy of art. When discussing what makes art significant, both emphasize the way the work of art is received by the viewer, hearer, or reader. It is in the effects of art that art gets its distinctive character, even if those effects themselves are continuous with other areas of our lives. Artworks are understood not first and foremost in terms of being the outcome of creative acts, nor as being intended to be perceived in a certain way, nor as having certain formal properties, nor as having an appropriate relation to the art world, but as being capable of creating an effect on or with an appreciator—an effect not found in interaction with commonplace objects.[26] In Dewey's case this effect is an experience; in Gadamer's case it is the event of truth, but in both cases the effects are what is relevant.

In addition, Dewey and Gadamer share a naturalistic approach to art; that is, they see art as arising out of our nature and as continuous with our nature.  In Experience and Nature Dewey writes

There are substantially but two alternatives. Either art is a continuation, by means of intelligent selection and arrangement, of natural tendencies of natural events; or art is a peculiar addition to nature springing from something dwelling exclusively within the breast of man, whatever name be given the latter. In the former case, delightfully enhanced perception or esthetic appreciation is of the same nature as enjoyment of any object that is consummatory. It is the outcome of a skilled and intelligent art of dealing with natural things for the sake of intensifying, purifying, prolonging and deepening the satisfactions which they spontaneously afford.[27]


Gadamer too thinks that art is "a continuation … of natural tendencies of natural events"; the play that reveals truth in the presence of a work of art is but a specific example of the play that models all interaction, and especially dialogical interaction.

The difference between the Dewey and Gadamer ultimately falls on the question of the relation between language and experience.[28] On the one hand, their conceptions of language have much in common. Both hold that language is essentially related to conversation, and, as such, both would reject the idea there could be a private language; also both see reflection as an activity that is derivative of, and parallel to, communication with others. We can reflect in words because we can talk to others in words. Both therefore see language as a tool not only of communication, but also of thought. Language allows us to keep things present to consciousness even in the thing's absence, and relations among words help us to better understand possible relations among things. On the other hand, they disagree on language's status as a tool—the "tool of tools" in Dewey's words.[29] Dewey grants language special status among tools, yet it is never anything other than a tool. Gadamer joins Heidegger in arguing that although we can and do use language, the mode of being of language is not ready-to-handness; language is not essentially a tool. Heidegger calls it the house of being and says we "inhabit" language; Gadamer, not to be out-metaphored, says our relation to language is like a fish's relation to water. We live and in through language and it is our relation to language that makes it useful as a tool; language's usefulness is derived from its connection to our nature—our "linguisticality."[30]

Metaphors aside, the primary function of language, according to Gadamer, is disclosure. A central idea of hermeneutic phenomenology is that phenomena do not first disclose themselves to a subject, only then to be described, but are disclosed through the use of language.

Language always furnishes the fundamental articulations that guide our understanding of the world. It belongs to the nature of familiarity with the world that whenever we exchange words with one another, we share the world. … Language gives all of us our access to a world in which certain special forms of human experience arise: the religious tidings that proclaim salvation, the legal judgment that tells us what is right and what is wrong in our society, the poetic word that by being there bears witness to our own being.[31]


Working with someone to become articulate about a subject matter—Gadamer's definition of dialogue—is the means by which phenomena become conscious. We articulate things in words and come to understand them in the process. Because language is a medium of shared disclosure it is a medium for communication.

Compare the difference between Dewey and Gadamer on the tool-nature of language with their views on the usefulness of one's hands—an example dear to both Gadamer and Dewey.[32] Clearly, hands are very useful tools. We do things with them constantly, and were we to lose them—or lose our ability to use them—we'd have to go to great lengths to compensate for the lost functionality. But our hands are not just tools; they are a way in which the world shows itself to us. Not only can we feel and touch things we might not be able to see and not only can properties be disclosed to touch in ways they might not be disclosed to other senses—two obvious ways in which hands might be disclosive—but our hands are integrated with our other senses to guide their disclosive ability. We perceive our environment in the way we do because we have hands with certain functions. Perhaps the clearest presentation of this is by Dewey himself in his "Reflex Arc" essay:

[T]he ability of the hand to do its work will depend, either directly or indirectly, upon its control, as well as its stimulation, by the act of vision. If the sight did not inhibit as well as excite the reaching, the latter would be purely indeterminate, it would be for anything or nothing, not for the particular object seen. The reaching, in turn, must both stimulate and control the seeing. The eye must be kept upon the candle if the arm is to do its work; let it wander and the arm takes up another task. In other words, we now have an enlarged and transformed co-ordination; the act is seeing no less than before, but it is now seeing-for-reaching purposes. [33]


Although Dewey tends to constrain all attention to occasions of inquiry, for Gadamer the phenomenologist, the at-hand character of experience is ubiquitous, in which case hands are not just tools. They form an essential way the world is disclosed to us. Things reveal themselves to us as something to grasp, or to reach for, or as lying within or beyond reach, and it is not a coincidence that "grasping" something is synonymous with understanding something. Hands are useful as tools in virtue of the more fundamental fact that hands disclose.

               Language, for Gadamer is disclosive of reality in just the same way. Just as things reveal themselves to us the way they do in virtue of our bodily comportment to them, things reveal themselves to as something or other, and this as-structure of perception is linguistically informed. We see something as a kind of thing because we have words to make sense of it as something. Things disclose themselves to us as objects of conceptual understanding, or as calling for articulation and description, which is to say disclosed as informed by language. This is the sense in which language functions in experience for Gadamer.

It is a short step from the linguisticality of experience to the Gadamerian view that "language performs thought," that the criteria for successful thinking are the criteria for successful use of language. So while Dewey sees language as wholly instrumental, Gadamer sees it as instrumental in virtue of its disclosive power—that difference marks out the differences between their aesthetic theories and their theories of poetry.[34] For Gadamer, poetry has a special status because language has this distinctive role to play in experience.  For the most part, we are not aware of the ways in which language is functioning in experience as disclosive; poetry however, wears its character as disclosive language on its sleeve. It shows language at work—in the process of disclosing—and it is in this sense that Gadamer calls poetry "the highest fulfillment of that revealing which is the achievement of speech."[35] All art connects to experience; because of the distinctively linguistic character of experience, the art of poetry does this most directly and perspicuously.

Moreover, while all aesthetic experience is interactive, poetry reveals this most clearly since reading poetry is always a performative event. As a reader we are in a position analogous to the musician or the dancer—we are generating the aesthetic experience as well as undergoing it. Since interpreting the work converges with performing it, we can vary the performance—pausing at different points, emphasizing different sounds—in the process varying the interpretation. Now it may be that all art appreciation and interpretation is performative in a similar way; my point here is that in poetry this fact is most clearly realized, and, as such, it places poetry in a privileged position with respect to the other arts. Poetry serves an exemplary role for understanding the nature of art.

               Often the small differences are the most illuminating ones. Dewey's and Gadamer's theories of art share much in common; they disagree, however, on the classic question of how the arts should be ranked, or, in Dewey's case, whether they should be ranked at all. It turns out that behind the disagreement lies a significant difference as to how they see our relationship to language, and this difference leads them to competing theories of poetry. Siding with Gadamer that language is not merely a tool, but a fundamental way in which the world is disclosed to us, I think Gadamer is right that poetry both holds pride of place among the arts and is exemplary of the disclosive power of all language. "In words we are at home….especially in the poetic use of language is this clear to all of us." [36]


                                                                                                                                       David Vessey

                                                                                                                                       University of Chicago



[1] Hegel's Introduction to Aesthetics, translated by T. M. Knox (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1979), 89.

[2] World as Will and Representation, Vol. I (New York: Dover, 1966), 320.

[3] World as Will and Representation, Vol. II (New York: Dover, 1966), 448.

[4] Early Works of John Dewey, Vol. 2, 1887: Psychology (Carbondale, Ill.: Southern Illinois University Press, 1970), 274. Hereafter citations of Dewey's quotations will be given by the abbreviation EW for Early Works, MW for Middle Works, and LW for Later Works, followed by the volume number and the page number—for example, EW.2.274.

[5] EW.2.277.

[6] LW.10.295.

[7] "Poetry and Mimesis" in The Relevance of the Beautiful and Other Essays (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986), 117.  Contrasts between Dewey and Gadamer's work are becoming more prominent in the literature. On just the topic of philosophy of art there are Thomas Jeannot's "A Propaedeutic to the Philosophical Hermeneutics of John Dewey: Art as Experience and Truth and Method" and Robert Innis's "Perception, Interpretation, and the Signs of Art" both in The Journal of Speculative Philosophy, 15/1 (2001), Richard Shusterman's "The End of Aesthetic Experience" in Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism,  55/1 (1997), John Gilmour's "Dewey and Gadamer on the Ontology of Art" in Man and World, 20 (1987), Joaquin Zuniga's "An Everyday Aesthetic Impulse: Dewey Revisited" in British Journal of Aesthetics, 29 (1989), and Thomas Alexander's "Eros and Understanding: Gadamer's Aesthetic Ontology of the Community" in The Philosophy of Hans-Georg Gadamer, edited by Louis Hahn (Chicago: Open Court, 1997).

[8] "The Origin of the Work of Art" Basic Writings, edited by David Farrell Krell (San Francisco: Harper Collins,1993), 199.

[9] LW.1.134.

[10] LW.1.269.

[11] LW.10.220.

[12] EW.3.112.

[13] LW.1.270.

[14] LW.10.246.

[15] LW.10.248.

[16] EW.3.122. Compare: "I cannot rid myself of the conviction that the weight and the humanity of the message of the poet are proportionate to the weighty and human ideas which he develops; that these ideas must be capable of verification to the intelligence—must be true in that system of knowledge which is science, in that discussion of the meaning of experience which is philosophy" (EW.3.119).

[17] LW.1.27.

[18] EW.3.123.

[19] Music was often given credit for appealing the more directly and most broadly as music is unmediated by ideas and Dewey does give music credit for being able to take something otherwise un-malleable and give it rhythmic and melodic meaning. "There are critics who hold that music outrivals poetry in its power to convey a sense of life and phases of life as we should desire them to be. I cannot, however, but think that by the very nature of its medium music is brutally organic: not, of course, in the sense in which ‘brutal' signifies ‘beastly,' but as we speak of brute facts, of that which is undeniable and unescapable, because so inevitably there. Nor is this view disparaging to music. Its value is precisely that it can take material which is organically assertive and apparently intractable, and make melody and harmony out of it" (LW.10.247).

[20] LW.10.16.

[21] LW.10.221.

[22] LW.10.54.

[23] "Religious and Poetical Speech" in Myth, Symbol and Reality, edited by Alan Olson and Leroy Rouner (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1980), 86.

[24] "The common aspect in all literature, however, lies obviously in the fact that the writer himself disappears because he has given to the linguistic form such an ideal form that nothing can be added. Everything is in the words of the text exactly as they appear in the text. We call that the art of writing" ("Philosophy and Literature" in Man and World 18(2): 1985, 249).

[25] "Philosophy and Poetry" in The Relevance of the Beautiful, 132–33, emphasis his.

[26] It is no coincidence that Louise Rosenblatt, the American founder of the reception theory of reading, was a Deweyean—see her The Reader, The Text, The Poem (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1978)—and that Hans-Robert Jauss, the main German proponent of reception theory, did his dissertation under Gadamer—see his Toward an Aesthetic of Reception, translated by Timothy Bahti (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1982).

[27] LW.1.291. He goes on to reject the second alternative.

[28] Heidegger had something like this in mind when he wrote

The linguistic work, poetry in the narrower sense, has a privileged position among the arts as a whole. To see this all me need is the right concept of language. According to the usual account, language is a kind of communication. It serves as a means of discussion and agreement, in general for achieving understanding. But language is neither merely nor primarily the aural and written expression of what needs to be communicated. The conveying of overt and covert meanings is not what language, in the first instance, does. Rather, it brings beings as beings, for the first time, into the open" (46–47, "The Origin of the Work of Art," in Off the Beaten Track, edited and translated by Julian Young and Kenneth Haynes [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002]).

[29] LW.1.134.

[30] For Gadamer's account of linguisticality see especially his "Towards a Phenomenology of Ritual and Language" in Language and Linguisticality in Gadamer's Hermeneutics, edited by Lawrence Schmidt (Lanham, Md.: Lexington Books, 2000), 19-50.

[31] "Philosophical Foundations of the Twentieth-Century" in Philosophical Hermeneutics, translated by David Linge (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1976), 115.

[32]  Gadamer writes, "[b]ecause the body presents itself as something with which we are intimate and not like an obstacle, it is precisely what sets us free and lets us be open for what is." (p. 30, "Praise of Theory" in Praise of Theory: Speeches and Essays, translated by Chris Dawson [New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998]).

[33] EW.5.98.

[34] A version of this argument is made by Bill Blattner in "The Primacy of Practice and Assertoric Truth:  Dewey and Heidegger" in Heidegger, Authenticity and Modernity: Essays in Honor of Hubert L. Dreyfus, vol. 1, edited by Mark Wrathall and Jeffrey Malpas (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2000), 231-249.

[35] "On the Contribution of Poetry to the Search for Truth," in Relevance of the Beautiful, 112.

[36] "Language and Understanding" in Theory, Culture & Society  23/1 (2006), 26.

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