The Poet vs The Philosopher

The poet presents the imagination with images from life and human characters and situations, sets them all in motion and leaves it to the beholder to let these images take his thoughts as far as his mental powers will permit. That is why he is able to engage men of the most differing capabilities, indeed fools and sages together. The philosopher, on the other hand, presents not life itself but the finished thoughts which he has abstracted from it and then demands that the reader should think precisely as, and precisely as far as, he himself thinks. That is why his public is so small. The poet can thus be compared with one who presents flowers, the philosopher with one who presents their essence.

– Arthur Schopenhauer

Extracted from the book ‘Arthur Schopenhauer Essays and Aphorisms‘ in a chapter titled ‘Aphorisms On Philosophy and the Intellect’ section 4; book published by Penguin Classic, translated by R. J. Hollingdale.

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