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Porter Abbott (University of California-Santa Barbara)
I Am Not a Philosopher

This paper hopes to investigate how Beckett negotiated the relation of philosophy to art.  In “I am Not a Philosopher,” Abbott will consider the famous statement Beckett made to Tom Driver as both literal and rhetorical:  that is, as an assertion that he is quite specifically not a philosopher and that this is a matter of some urgency for him.  As a test case, Abbott will focus on Beckett and Heidegger, utilizing Lance St. John Butler’s valuable alignment of Beckett and Heidegger in Samuel Beckett and the Meaning of Being.  If Heidegger deployed art (in particular, the work of poets) in his later philosophy, it no more shifted his center of gravity than did Beckett’s frequent importation into his art of the language of philosophy.   By comparing the ways Heidegger and Beckett cross the boundary philosophy and art, Abbott hopes to probe how we define that boundary and where it is located in these two writers’ works.

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