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John Ashbery's Three Poems uses an idiom of analytic epistemology which invites critics to think about the collection in epistemological terms. The poems contain a style of argument which allows for contingent beliefs to be entertained in certain 'states of mind', and can be found in Emerson in the concept of a 'mood'. This type of argument is present in 'The New Spirit' and 'The Recital' which provide analogies to the processes of belief formation about the subjective basis of truth and logical paradox respectively. Finally, 'The System' is read as an analogy to the process of knowledge formation.