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Poetry

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INTRODUCTION TO PHILOSOPHY
Poetry: for and against

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POETRY: FOR AND AGAINST
POETRY:
The word poetry is taken from a Greek word poieo which means I create. It is an art form in which human language is used for its aesthetic qualities in addition to, or instead of, its notional and semantic content. It consists largely of oral or literary works in which language is used in a manner that is felt by its user and audience to differ from ordinary prose.
BRIEF HISTORY OF POETRY: Poetry as an art form predates literacy. In preliterate societies, poetry was frequently employed as a means of recording oral history, storytelling (epic poetry), genealogy, law and other forms of expression or knowledge that modern societies might expect to be handled in prose. Some writers believe that poetry has its origins in song. Most of the characteristics that distinguish it from other forms of utterance—rhythm, rhyme, compression, intensity of feeling, the use of refrains—appear to have come about from efforts to fit words to musical forms. However, in the European tradition the earliest surviving poems, the Homeric and Hesiodic epics, identify themselves as poems to be recited or chanted to a musical accompaniment rather than as pure song.
ARGUMENTS ON POETRY:
The Plato has criticized poetry as an imitative art in his book Republica. Plato narrated in his book that to have an ideal state, it is necessary to ban all imitative art forms as they corrupt the minds. He establishes a debate regarding the usefulness and potentially negative effects of poetry. He presents the theory of cave allegory in order to explain the poetic world and the philosopher world.
CAVE ALLEGORY:
In the allegory, there are prisoners chained in a cave, unable to turn their heads. All they can see is the wall of the cave. Behind them burns a fire. Between the fire and the prisoners there is a parapet, along which puppeteers can walk. The puppeteers, who are behind the prisoners, hold up puppets that cast shadows on the wall of the cave. The prisoners are unable to see these puppets, the real objects that pass behind them. What the prisoners see and hear are shadows and echoes cast by objects that they do not see. Here is an illustration of Plato’s Cave:

Such prisoners would mistake appearance for reality. They would think the things they see on the wall (the shadows) were real; they would know nothing of the real causes of the shadows. To them, the truth would be nothing but the shadows of images. When the prisoner is released and compelled to stand he will suffer pains and will not at first be able to see the realities. What he saw before was an illusion. As he gets closer to being [reality] he has clearer vision. The shadows will seem truer. In seeing the sun itself, his eyes will be dazzled. In the upper world he will see shadows best at first, then reflections, then the objects themselves, then the light of the moon, stars and heaven, and finally the sun, which he will contemplate as it is. He will reason that the sun gives the seasons and years. It guards, and in a sense causes the visible world. And he will pity the men in the den. He would not care for the honors given for discerning the passing shadows and making predictions about them. He would suffer anything rather than live in this way. If he was suddenly placed in his old situation [back in the cave] his eyes would be full of darkness and he would fail any contest in measuring the shadows until his eyes became steady (which might take a long time). Other men would see him as ridiculous, think it not a good idea to ascend, and would put to death anyone who tried to lead someone to the light. Here Plato’s prisoners are Poets and the prisoner who is released and learns that whatever he was looking in cave was an illusion is a philosopher, who discovers the reality through his intellect.
MEANING OF ALLEGORY: In Plato's allegory symbols are used to represent truth, ignorance, society and the fear of change. Truth is represented by the sun, while ignorance is represented by the cave, its limited vision and darkness within. The prisoners represent ignorant members of society who are content to believe that what they see is all that exists. The raised wall symbolizes the limitation of our thinking and the shadow symbolically suggest the world of sensory perception which Plato considers an illusion. In his opinion, the appearance is false and reality is somewhere, which we cannot see. Plato as an ideal philosopher says that the appearing world is just the imitation or photocopy of the real world. The shadows represent such photocopy and, the reality is possible to know with the spiritual knowledge. The chains symbolize our limitation in this material world so that we cannot know the reality to know reality; we have to break the material world. The outer world of the light symbolically suggests the world of spiritual reality, which we achieve by breaking the chains that are used to tie us. The dazzling of our eyes for the first time symbolizes difficulty of denies the material world. The second time dazzling of the eyes symbolizes our difficulty to accept ignorance after knowing the reality. Hence, in allegory of the cave Plato has given a criticism over our limited existence in the material world. In Allegory of the cave, Plato has also described about our perception. He says that there are two types of perception: sensory perception and spiritual perception. Sensory perception is the world of appearance, which we perceive, with the help of our sensory organs. For this, world is the world of illusion. It is the world of shadows so in Plato’s view it is the world of falsehood. The reality or truth is impossible to perceive with our senses, it is possible through spiritual perception, which is divine enlightenment. Spiritual perception is possible when we reject the world of sensory perception so until and unless we break all the material chains we do not get spiritual perception. It is the ideal philosophy of Plato and his spiritual perception as an ideal concept.

POETRY (IN DEFENSE):
Sidney's response was the DEFENSE. Note that he uses ideas from both Plato (who had ironically argued against poetry) and Aristotle to make his case. * Poetry to be defended as it has come under attack. * Poetry has been man's first source of inspiration: * Great philosophers have been poets (including Plato) * Poetry in Greek and Roman times meant "Maker"/ prophet.
Sidney: "All philosophers (natural and moral) follow nature, but only the poet, disdaining to be tied to any such subjection, lifted up with the vigor of his own invention, does grow in effect into another nature, in making things either better than nature brings forth, or, quite anew, forms such as never were in nature...Nature never set forth the earth in so rich a tapestry as different poets have done, neither with so pleasant rivers, fruitful trees..."
THE POET AS A CREATOR: Poetry and man--the poet's talents stem from the fact that he is able to create from a pre-existing idea called the fore-conceit. Poetry is the link between the real and the ideal worlds. Poets therefore take part in the divine act of creation. POETRY DEFINED: "Poetry therefore is an art of imitation, for so Aristotle terms it in the word mimesis--that is to say a representing, counter-feiting, or figuring forth to speak metaphorically, a speaking picture with this end, to teach and delight." Since then poetry is of all human learning’s the most ancient, and of most fatherly antiquity, a from whence other learning’s take their beginnings, since it is so universal that no learned nation does despise it since both Roman and Greek gave such divine names to it, the art of prophesying the other of making. The poet only, only brings his own stuff, and does not learn a conceit out of a matter, but makes matter for a conceit, since neither his description nor his end contains any evil, the thing described cannot be evil; since his effects are so good as to teach goodness, and delight the learner of it.
POETRY DISCUSSED IN ITS EFFECTS AND KINDS: The true poet is one who creates notable images on virtues, vices with that delightful teaching, which must be the right describing note to know a poet. The ultimate end of this is to draw us to as high perfection as our degenerate souls can be made capable of. Man can thus enjoy what makes him divine. Poetry has a moral purpose, therefore, consisting in leading men to truth by integrating, not dividing knowledge. History teaches and so does philosophy, but the poet is superior to both, since history deals with facts and records, ultimately hearsay, and the philosopher describes abstractions that often do not relate to the world as most people understand it.Now does the peerless poet perform both [the functions of the philosopher and the historian]. For whatsoever the philosopher says should be done, he gives a perfect picture of it is someone by whom he presupposes it was done; so he as couples the general notion with the particular example. The poet affects feelings and does not just give examples. The philosopher teaches, but he teaches obscurely, so as the learned only can understand him; that is to say, he teaches them that are already taught, the poet is the right popular philosopher. Poetry is more philosophical than history, as the historian is trapped with facts. The poet uses the facts of the historian, but he makes them nobler by using the imagination in the creative process. The poet then can teach virtue--which is one of the central functions of tragedy--evil men who experience evil fortune end in disgrace.
THE POET MOVES MEN: Philosophers teach as well, but the poet can move men to desire the good for action is greater than knowledge. Thus the philosopher is concerned not only with the end (truth), but making the means of achieving this end pleasant. Poetry is even capable of making the unpleasant like war and horror pleasant in terms of the means through which it is presented. A poet uses suggests the importance of the creative process in writing poetry. One of Plato's arguments was that the very danger of the poet was that he could use creative means to ensnare his listeners--something Plato himself knew and used in his own writing. The next section from Sidney deals with the creative process. The terms he uses are very important and will appear in later periods.

Thus, Sir Philip Sidney in his book THE DEFENCE OF POESY proves poetry to be a Divine like characteristics attributed to poets, through which they can recreate the present world into a better world and they delight and teach through it.

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