The Ethos of Poetry: Listening to Poetic and Schizophrenic Expressions of Alienation and Otherness

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In the Letter of Humanism, Heidegger reinterprets the Greek notion of ethos as designating the way in which human beings dwell in the world through a “unifying” language. Through various down strokes in the autobiographical and psychopathological literature on schizophrenia as well as in literary texts and literary criticism, this paper, experimental in its effort, argues that the language productions of schizophrenia and poetry, each in its own way, seem to fall outside this unification of a language in common. Furthermore, it argues that this “falling outside” is related to radical experiences of “alienation” and “otherness,” which call for an alteration of conventional language. However, whereas poetry appears to open new linguistic possibilities, schizophrenia runs the risk of reducing language to the silence of incomprehensible “nonsense.” The paper ends with the suggestion that a poetic employment of language may hold a double potential with regard to the understanding and possible treatment of schizophrenia spectrum disorders.
TidsskriftJournal of the British Society for Phenomenology
Udgave nummer4
Sider (fra-til)334-351
Antal sider18
StatusUdgivet - 2021

Bibliografisk note

Published online: 27 Apr 2021.


  • Ethics
  • Language
  • Poetry
  • Schizophrenia Spectrum Disorders
  • Alienation
  • Otherness