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In this ground-breaking study on the nature of philosophy, Jan Zwicky demonstrates how much of potential philosophical significance is lost if our notion of meaningful language is constrained by narrow concepts of analytic rigour. Her aim is not to dismiss the role of analysis in philosophy; rather she strives to augment its resources and thereby give to philosophy a voice with greater range and integrity.

Two parallel texts, on facing pages, run through the book. The primary one is Zwicky’s, which begins with a critique of existing criteria for defining a work as philosophy, and then develops the notion of lyric in its relation to two other key terms: technology and domesticity. She finishes with an exploration of meaning, form, and content in lyric contexts. The parallel text consists of quotations from other authors. It serves as commentary on, illustration of, and reaction to, the main text; as a way of acknowledging intellectual debts; and as a way of providing an historical context for some of the main text’s claims.

Highly original in its thought and presentation, Zwicky’s discussion makes an exciting contribution to contemporary philosophy, forging new connections and expanding old boundaries.

Something to be read with pleasure and enlightenment. The interplay of text and quotation is fascinating. … A substantial book that has the virtues of integrity and domesticity which it celebrates.

Guy Davenport

A brilliant critique of systematic and analytic philosophy …. It is the combination of depth, accessibility, and evocative resonance that makes this an important book …. It is a sustained appeal to live in a certain way: heightened attention to detail infused with presence, heightened consciousness of the ongoing need to integrate the detail.

Sheila Mason

Highly original … an impressive book. It is full of epigrammatic wit, provocative insights, and, of course, fascinating quotations. It will surely be read and debated, and it will contribute to a new mood of openness which is blowing fresh air into North American philosophy.

Ronald de Sousa

Jan Zwicky

Jan Zwicky is a philosopher and poet. She has won the Governor General’s Award for poetry, the Dorothy Livesay Award, and has been shortlisted for the Griffin Prize for Poetry. In 2004, her philosophical monograph Wisdom & Metaphor was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award for nonfiction.