restricted access Poems as Reportive Avowals


Some avowals are what Dorit Bar-On calls “Reportive Avowals”; they express the avower’s mental state directly, but nevertheless have propositional content. I argue that some poems are Reportive Avowals (“PARAs”). They are tools for expressing strong but conflicting emotions; poems by Emily Dickinson are examples. Wittgenstein was right about intentions not being clearly separable from their expressions. The intentions of a poet in writing a poem cannot be neatly separated from the poem. Therefore, understanding a PARA requires understanding the poet’s intentions. Writing and reading PARAs can enhance our understanding of what it means to avow.

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