“that philosophy and poetry were indeed closely related; they were not identical but sprang from the same source – which is thinking” (1)
At some stage, both poetry and philosophy did hope to find truth. But then, they always have been confronted with the infuriating gap between words and reality…. With the frustrating powerlessness of words to grasp the workings of the world and of the creatures of this world .
However abstract & 'un-wordly', mathematics at least get to reveal the laws of nature.
But words …., the very medium in which we think..., words have proven so inadequate to produce scientific knowledge, all they have produced are Great Metaphysical Fallacies and Untrue Stories.
Just as “poetry makes nothing happen” (2), thinking “does not bring knowledge as do the sciences” nor “does it produce usable practical wisdom”(3).
But then, as humans we crave meaning. And meaning is about thinking. And thinking is about meaning, not about knowing .
[…] thinking and knowing are two altogether different concerns, [corresponding] with meaning in the first category, and cognition in the second. […] The need of thinking is not inspired by the quest for truth but by the quest for meaning . And truth and meaning are not the same. “ (4)
Religion (allegedly (5)) reveals both truth and pre-ordained meanings, sanctioned in hallowed formulas & ready-made rituals, shared by a community. All very comforting & soothing & unchanging. No exhausting thinking needed. And only one Book to read.
Poetry & philosophy – ah, no truth is revealed, nothing’s pre-ordained, much less is sanctioned (even the Canon of writers has crumbled). So much thinking to do for so elusive a morsel of meaning.
But is the alternative then to go without individual thinking, to go without this dialogue with the many tentative stories woven throughout the ages? What kind of meaning-less society would that produce? (6)
“Stories constitute together, and referring to each other, the proof of our presence “ (6) (7)
Thinking inevitably produces footnotes:
(1) Hannah Arendt – The Life of the Mind
(2) Says the Poet: W.H. Auden
(3) Confesses the Philosopher: Heidegger
(4) Hannah Arendt – The Life of the Mind
(5) Allegedly – such a lovely word!
(6) Marc Reuyebrink
(7) It’s only in a footnote that I would dare to quote Baudelaire’s pathetic outcry in “les phares” (about how the great artworks troughout the ages are « ardent sobs”, and the best testimony of human dignity): “car vraiment seigneur, c’est le meilleur témoignage que nous puissions donner de notre dignité, que cet ardent sanglot qui roule d’âge en âge et vient mourir au bord de votre éternité »