Monday, April 30, 2007

Poets vs. Philosophers.

Poets vs. Philosophers.
Hmm. That's a big one!!!! What separates one from the other?

Philosophers. They analyze and synthesize. Some do one some the other some both. At any rate they try to understand (and tell the rest of us) about reality. They abstract from reality to show it to us.

Analysis: They look at things and try to determine the underlying principles. That is they look for what may be a "rule" that applies to the worlds state or activities that shows the unity of different things or actions.

Synthesis: Using the principles (above) they try to show how these assemble to make predictable ends.

Poets. This is a much tougher nut to crack. They seem to feel the principles that the philosophers do. But do they know them as well? Maybe some poets know them perfectly well. Of these poets it would make sense to say that they are able to describe things and events in just such a way as to make the world more understandable to us. But they use the imagery of the world to do it. They don't abstract. They wield a description of a something to cast our minds beyond that very thing into a place with a better view - an understanding. They will usually use an event or thing which the readers already know about (like two roads on a snowy evening) or a character (which we recognize from likenesses to ourselves and those we know) and say it in just such a way as to trigger in our own minds the bigger picture. They can tell a story that makes reality clearer by making the characters' motivations just a little clearer (like Nathan the prophet telling King David about the man with only one sheep. At this point the poet would typically stop and let David figure out the rest for himself. But Nathan goes on - explicitly revealing that that sheep is Bathsheba the widow of Uriah the Hittite). The poet somehow adds more meaning.

This "topic" is going to keep me thinking for the rest of my life. Feel free to share your own ideas!!

Here's another tangent. There seem to have been great philosophers popping up in response to great poets throughout history. Who is Shakespeare's philosopher? - - - John Paul II?

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