Chapter IX: The Functions and Future of Poetry

Book cover for Logic of the Sciences and Humanities by FSC Northrop

By now, of course, you will have read Chapter IX, “The Functions and Future of Poetry.” in The Logic of the Sciences and the Humanities by FSC Northrop (1947).

Northrop wrote,

That factor of anything which is denoted by a concept by intuition we shall call the aesthetic component of reality, or reality in its aesthetic aspect; that designated by a concept by postulation, the theoretic component, or reality in its postulated or theoretical aspect (p. 171).

He recognized that a major change from this conventional view was needed. Poets must

. . . start afresh with the immediacy of experience as it has forced the scientist to new and more adequate theory, and, in terms of this theory to make articulate a new philosophy joining the theoretic and aesthetic components of reality, thereby defining a new meaning for human existence and hence a new morality, which it will be the privilege of some Dante of the future to express metaphorically and embody aesthetically in the feelings and emotions of man.

Originally published at Poetry and Science.

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