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Poetic and Scientific Knowledge

I’m working on a pre-school curriculum with one of my clients, and perhaps the biggest challenge for me is explaining the concept of poetic knowledge in layman’s terms. The trouble is that it’s like explaining water to a fish.

When a three year old gets a puppy, he has almost no “analytical” knowledge of the puppy. He doesn’t know how many teeth it has, probably doesn’t know what it likes to eat in its natural habitat, doesn’t realize it’s a mammal, and probably only notices that it has four legs and sharp teeth incidentally. But one week later, he knows that puppy. His knowledge BEGINS with affection and delight. He wants to share in the same experience with the dog, not study it from the outside. He wants to play with it, to call it by the name he gave it, to encounter it personally.

But he doesn’t reflect on any of these things. He just does them.

Later on, something might go wrong. The dog might eat something it shouldn’t, or hurt its leg, or (God forbid) get pregnant. Then the personal, direct, experiential, poetic knowledge would have to mature. It would have to make way for an objective, impersonal, detached knowledge that would enable the specific issue to be treated objectively, impersonally, and detached.

A doctor goes to the office and applies scientific knowledge. He comes home to his wife and experiences poetic knowledge.

So what is poetic knowledge? Give me a sentence that a layman can easily understand but that doesn’t fall short of what it actually is.

Genus: knowledge.

Differentia: pre-rational, non-analytical, personal, alive, relational (is that the essence?) etc. Is this helping? Can it even be explained categorically?

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