Philosophy – The Poetry of Knowledge

Analyzing Miguel de Unamuno’s thought, it is worth stopping for a moment on the term “philosophy”. This is a seemingly trivial question. But a very long tradition makes philosophy a complex problem.

According to Unamuno, a human […] is at once the subject and the supreme object of all philosophy, whether or not certain self-styled philosophers like it (Unamuno, 2005, 421-428). Human is the subject of philosophy because philosophy describes one’s experiences. Philosophy in this meaning performs a therapeutic role. It satisfies his needs, trying to help one go through various existential states. But that’s not all, because one is not only trying to learn how to live but also who he is and how to be a more valuable person. Human is the highest point of reference for all considerations. It is the highest object of all philosophy and the most important link of the system. One seeks to learn the essence of one’s own being and self-determination.

Philosophy as Poetry of Knowledge

What is the definition of philosophy according to Unamuno?

It behoves us to say, before all, that philosophy lies closer to poetry than to science. All philosophic systems which have been constructed as a supreme concord of the final results of the individual sciences have in every age possessed much less consistency and life than those which expressed the integral spiritual yearning of their authors (Unamuno, 2005, 426-434).

The placement of philosophy between poetry and science is extraordinary and original. In this way, it emphasizes the metaphorical and symbolic aspect of philosophy. 

Even Miguel de Unamuno was not only a philosopher but a writer, too. There are known his short stories, novels, and poems.  

An Individual Effort of the Poetry of Knowledge

A philosophical work, like a poem, is the work of one author who, in a creative act, implements his plan. Science for a change results from the actions of many cooperating people.  So, the scientist sees reality from a different perspective than the poet. The scientist focuses on detail, while the poet has some general idea of the whole phenomenon. The personal involvement of the poet is deeper than a scientist. 

To explain what philosophy is, a thinker must have his own notion of all the reality. The philosophical theory must form a coherent whole. In addition, this theory has to be rooted in some intellectual tradition.

Reflection of Subconsciousness in Poetry of Knowledge

Also, after Sigmund Freud’s theory, poetry appears in a new light. Poetry speaks the language of images as an expression of unspoken psychic contents. In this way, they express human feelings and experiences in a symbolic and aesthetic form. About some topics, it is easier to speak in this way than directly. The poetry of thought awakens the reflection of the audience. Also, it draws out the blocked feeling from the unconscious and subconscious. Even it lets you talk about what belongs to the taboo zone. A beautiful illustration of this thesis is a scene from the French film from 1991 All Mornings of the World. Two musicians – Sainte Colombe (Jean-Pierre Marielle) and Marin Marais (Gérard Depardieu) – the master and his pupil talk about music. We can describe music as a spiritual message as the philosophy of sound.

Summing up: The subject and the object of philosophy is “the man of flesh and bone”. What is philosophy? Philosophy is an anthropocentric description of the order of the world. In Unamuno’s opinion, philosophy is closer to poetry than to science. It is based on experiences and feelings. Aesthetic codes of art can directly express these contents. They allow overcoming the restrictions imposed on man. The philosophy in this meaning leads to the structuring of reality.

Sources

Unamuno M. de. (2017) Del sentimiento trágico de la vida, Librorio: David Garcia, Online Publication from 1912 Edition,

Unamuno M. de. (2005). Tragic Sense of Life, trans. J.E.Crawford Flitch, The Gutrnberg Project Ebook.

Abenita

I have gained an MA in philosophy at UKSW University in Warsaw. Philosophy is my passion, especially existentialism. My second fascination is the Theory of Positive Disintegration by Kazimierz Dabrowski as a connection of the psychological knowledge with a philosophical perspective.

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