Julia Peterson

Washington, DC, United States

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Julia Peterson
Posted over 3 years ago
What, if any, are the meaningful differences between poetry and philosophy?
I think the greatest difference is in form. For poetry, the form is part of the content. Through attention to aesthetics, great poets fit on a single page what most people need an entire book to express. On the other hand, the most influential Western philosophers like Kant, for instance, seem to put hardly any effort into the aesthetics of their work. Their writing is highly technical, almost as if they were writing about great concepts like freedom and love for scientists instead of artists. They have no problem using hundreds and hundreds of pages to convey one single concept. This difference in form reflects their different purposes. Poetry is purposefully open-ended, ever ready for further development and interpretation. Philosophy, on the other hand, is argumentative. Most philosophers start their work rejecting the claims of previous philosophers, and offering instead new principles and claims. Deconstructionist philosophy, on the other hand, reads a lot like poetry. Laozi and Zhaungzi wrote in verse because they wanted their philosophy to be open-ended. Still, their deconstructionism was clearly meant as an attack on the world view of narrow-minded confucians. I don't think poetry on its own is argumentative in the way philosophy is.