Abstract

Gerard Manley Hopkins once said, “What you look hard at seems to look hard at you.” This phrase not only encapsulates the central emphasis of Hopkins’s poetry but also suggests a proper relationship between philosophy and art. The aesthetic experience of artworks can provide pivotal experiences for metaphysical interpretations, and I attempt to show that Hopkins’s poetry gives such a foundational and informative experience for philosophical investigations. Hopkins develops his poetic expressions based on what he calls the ability of language to inscape and ingress profound experiences of reality. The metaphysics of Duns Scotus in which the particular embodies or transubstantiates the universal underlies these ideas and inspires Hopkins to write poetry. My point is not to say that a philosopher can offer the true meaning of Hopkins’s poetry and that, once we get the philosophical meaning, we can dismiss the poems. Rather, Hopkins’s poetry presents the kind of experiences that a philosopher can use to make meaningful metaphysical interpretations of the world.

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