Thursday, December 13, 2012

Poetry Moralizes by Weirding

If the arts are concrete forms of pure wisdom, they moralize. How do they moralize? By making you weird. Specifically, you learn to empathize. You learn to empathize not just with characters in literature, but with objects and places, plants and animals. Thus one enters into a wide variety of others, seeing the world in new perspectives. This is disrupting to the way we view things, opening up the imagination, bringing forth new moral possibilities.

The lessons learned from the processes of the spontaneous orders of pure wisdom find their realization in the world in the spontaneous orders of practical wisdom. This is how "Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world" (Percy Shelley, "A Defense of Poetry").

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