Analytic philosophy, the ancient philosopher poets and the poetics of analytic philosophy

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The paper starts with reflections on Plato's critique of the poets and the preference many express for Aristotle's view of poetry. The second part of the paper takes a case study of analytic treatments of ancient philosophy, including the ancient philosopher poets, to examine the poetics of analytic philosophy, diagnosing a preference in Analytic philosophy for a clean non-poetic style of presentation, and then develops this in considering how well historians of philosophy in the Analytic tradition can accommodate the contributions of philosophers who wrote in verse. The final part of the paper reviews the current enthusiasm for decoding Empedocles' vague and poetic descriptions of the cosmic cycle into a precise scientific periodicity on the basis of the recently discovered Byzantine scholia on Aristotle. I argue that this enthusiasm speaks to a desire for definite and clear numerical values in place of poetic motifs of give and take, and that this mathematical and scientific poetic is comparable to the preferred poetic of analytic philosophy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)158-182
Number of pages25
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2021


  • Aristotle
  • Barnes
  • Cosmic Cycle
  • Empedocles
  • Parmenides
  • Plato
  • Poetics
  • Rashed
  • Republic
  • Xenophanes

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