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This topic relates to the last course discussion between Christopher Perrin and David Schenk. Christopher started with a question How does philosophy create connections? and David quickly noted that philosophy doesn't create anything, it discovers things. I've just finished Lewis' Perelandra. It ends with the Great Dance, Lewis' beautiful portrayal of how everything is connected. His prose in this novel seems to be a poetic mixture of philosophy and theology. I am also currently reading a biography of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. In it the author describes the uncanny parallels between Coleridge's life and the character of the mariner in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Evidently, even though Coleridge was well known as a poet, he also had a great interest in philosophy, particularly metaphysics.  As I attempted to make my own connections between what I've been reading lately and what I've been learning in the philosophy lectures, it occurred to me that philosophy and poetry are connected. They lead us to the exploration and discovery of the intertwined essence of things. The difference is that they do it in different ways. Philosophy's domain is the ratio;  poetry's is the intellectus.

I invite anyone who views this topic to explore with me the connections between poetry & philosophy. How do they uniquely enable us to discover connections in our chosen disciplines, our personal devotions, our daily lives? 

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I like the distinction that philosophy doesn't create connections, it discovers them. I don't know that I have anything of substance to add to your essential question, but I just want to add my enthusiasm for Coleridge to yours. Until recently, I always thought of Coleridge as an opium-influenced Romantic poet who wrote The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Kubla Khan, and not much else. For years, I've know that Charlotte Mason referred to him as a "philosopher," but I didn't really investigate. Last year, I acquired a copy of Coleridge's Treatise on Method, and was absolutely floored. It's not easy reading, but this work had a deep influence on Charlotte Mason, and it's basically a discussion of the similar method of Bacon and Plato, in spite of Bacon's claim to be rejecting Plato.

Here's a bit of what he says:
 

Quote

 

We have shown that a Method, which is at all comprehensive, must be founded on the relations of things: that those relations are of two sorts, according as they present themselves to the Human Mind as necessary, or merely as the result of observation.

...

The relations of things cannot be united by accident: they are united by an Idea, either definitive or instinctive.

 

Education is the science of relations (ala Charlotte Mason), yes?

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Thanks for your response, Karen, and sorry it's taken me so long to post a reply. I am now reading Coleridge's Biographia Literaria alongside Owen Barfield's What Coleridge Thought, which is kind of a commentary on Coleridge's philosophy.  Interesting that Coleridge influenced Charlotte Mason. I've discovered several literary connections to Coleridge. For instance George Macdonald devotes a whole chapter in his novel There and Back to a conversation about the Rime. And C.S. Lewis references him early on in the Abolition of Man

You are so right, for the most part Coleridge is not easy to read. Thanks for posting the quotes. Classic Coleridge prose where he contrasts the meanings of two words.

I particularly like your last words: Education is the science of relations. Question: In what sense are you using the word "science" in that statement? The reason I ask is that I am preparing to teach a course on human anatomy and physiology next year and would like to relate it to other disciplines. I recalled da Vinci's famous Vitruvian Man and was surprised to learn that he was an anatomist who rendered many exquisite drawings of the body. What a great place to start teaching this course!

 

Edited by Donald Hess

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8 hours ago, Donald Hess said:

Thanks for your response, Karen, and sorry it's taken me so long to post a reply. I am now reading Coleridge's Biographia Literaria alongside Owen Barfield's What Coleridge Thought, which is kind of a commentary on Coleridge's philosophy.  Interesting that Coleridge influenced Charlotte Mason. I've discovered several literary connections to Coleridge. For instance George Macdonald devotes a whole chapter in his novel There and Back to a conversation about the Rime. And C.S. Lewis references him early on in the Abolition of Man

You are so right, for the most part Coleridge is not easy to read. Thanks for posting the quotes. Classic Coleridge prose where he contrasts the meanings of two words.

I particularly like your last words: Education is the science of relations. Question: In what sense are you using the word "science" in that statement? The reason I ask is that I am preparing to teach a course on human anatomy and physiology next year and would like to relate it to other disciplines. I recalled da Vinci's famous Vitruvian Man and was surprised to learn that he was an anatomist who rendered many exquisite drawings of the body. What a great place to start teaching this course!

 

That made me smile. "Education is the science of relations" is not really my statement--it's one of Charlotte Mason's 20 principles of education, and, I think, one of the two most vital (the other vital one being "Children are born persons"). But your question about science is one that I've thought about extensively. Charlotte Mason does not define her term as she uses it here, and after years, I've concluded that she is just using a Victorian-era buzzword to make her point. Everything was a science for them--household science, moral science, etc, etc, because science was very new and exciting in their age. I think "science" is just an attention-getting word, and the important idea is really "relations."

Because elsewhere, she says this:
 

Quote

 

Wisdom, the Recognition of Relations––It is curious how the philosophy of the Bible is always well in advance of our latest thought. 'He grew in wisdom and in stature,' we are told. Now what is wisdom, philosophy? Is it not the recognition of relations? First, we have to understand relations of time and space and matter, the natural philosophy which made up so much of the wisdom of Solomon; then, by slow degrees, and more and more, we learn that moral philosophy which determines our relations of love and justice and duty to each other: later, perhaps, we investigate the profound and puzzling subject of the inter-relations of our own most composite being, mental philosophy. And in all these and beyond all these we apprehend, slowly and feebly, the highest relation of all, the relation to God, which we call religion. In this science of the relations of things consists what we call wisdom, and wisdom is not born in any man,––apparently not even in the Son of man Himself.

Wisdom increases; Intelligence does not––He grew in wisdom, in the sweet gradual apprehension of all the relations of life: but the power of apprehending, the strong, subtle, discerning spirit, whose function it is to grasp and understand, appropriate and use, all the relations which bind all things to all other things––this was not given to Him by measure; nor, we may reverently believe, is it so given to us.

 

I think it's an interesting line of inquiry, to consider both "education is the science of relations" and "wisdom is the recognition of relations." But it's definitely underscored for me that the relations are the main point.  I do know that Charlotte Mason considered wonder to be the foundation of science, and she did not think it should be divorced (because separation is the opposite of relations) from the humanities.
 

Quote

 

Huxley's axiom that science teaching in the schools should be of the nature of 'common information' is of use in defining our limitations in regard to the teaching of science. We find another limitation in the fact that children's minds are not in need of the mental gymnastics that such teaching is supposed to afford. They are entirely alert and eager to know. Books dealing with science as with history, say, should be of a literary character, and we should probably be more scientific as a people if we scrapped all the text-books which swell publishers' lists and nearly all the chalk expended so freely on our blackboards. The French mind has appreciated the fact that the approach to science as to other subjects should be more or less literary, that the principles which underlie science are at the same time sosimple, so profound and so far-reaching that the due setting forth of these provokes what is almost an emotional response; these principles are therefore meet subjects for literary treatment, while the details of their application are so technical and so minute as, except by way of illustration,––to be unnecessary for school work or for general knowledge.

...

If we wanted an excuse for affording children a wide syllabus introducing them at any rate to those branches of science of which every normal person should have some knowledge, we find it in the deprecatory words of Sir Richard Gregory in his Presidential Address in the Education Science Section of the British Association. He said that,

"Education might be defined as a deliberate adjustment of a growing human being to its environment, and the scope and character of the subjects of instruction should be determined by this biological principle. What was best for one race or epoch need not be best for another. The essential mission of school science was to prepare pupils for civilised citizenship by revealing to them something of the beauty and the power of the world in which they lived, as well as introducing them to the methods by which the boundaries of natural knowledge had been extended. School science, therefore, was not intended to prepare for vocations, but to equip pupils for life. It should be part of a general education, unspecialised, but in no direct connexion with possible university courses to follow. Less than three per cent of the pupils from State-aided secondary schools proceeded to universities, and yet most of the science courses in these schools were based on syllabuses of the type of university entrance examinations. The needs of the many were sacrificed to the few.

"Too much importance was attached to what could be covered by personal experiment and observation. Every science examination qualifying for the first school certificate, which now represented subjects normally studied up to about sixteen years of age, was mainly a test of practical acquaintance with facts and principles encountered in particular limited fields, but not a single one afforded recognition of a broad and ample course of instruction in science such as was a necessary complement to laboratory work.

"The numbers [of examination candidates] suggested that general scientific teaching was almost non-existent. The range of instruction in the portions of subjects taken, moreover, was almost confined to what could be taught in a laboratory. Reading or teaching for interest or to learn how physical science was daily extending the power of man received little attention because no credit for knowledge thus gained was given in examinations. There was very special need for the reminder that science was not all measurement, nor all measurement science."

It is reassuring to see methods that we have pursued for over thirty years with admirable results recommended thus authoritatively. The only sound method of teaching science is to afford a due combination of field or laboratory work, with such literary comments and amplifications as the subject affords. For example, from Ethics Of the Dust children derive a certain enthusiasm for crystals as such that their own unaided observation would be slow to afford. As a matter of fact the teaching of science in our schools has lost much of its educative value through a fatal and quite unnecessary divorce between science and the 'humanities.'

 

Sorry for the long quotes! I've added Barfield's book about Coleridge to my "want to read" list. :)

Edited by KarenG
Typos, as usual.

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Excellent timing! I was planning on drafting a syllabus for my human anatomy course today and put into writing some of my ideas regarding content and laboratory work. Instead, I've copied your post and all the quotations and will sit with them for a while. This much I know, that the primary question I'd like to explore with my students is this: If man and woman were made I the image of God, what will our study of the human body reveal about Him. As an initial  "laboratory" exercise, I may invite an art teacher to provide some basic instruction on portrait drawing and then have the students draw a self-portrait. Does that sound like something Charlotte would do? It has been over 15 years that I've read anything written by her. Now that I've added to your reading list, perhaps you could return the favor. Any recommendations? Keep in mind that my students will be high8school level homeschoolers.

12 hours ago, KarenG said:

I think it's an interesting line of inquiry, to consider both "education is the science of relations" and "wisdom is the recognition of relations."

I feel like I've entered into a greater conversation...one that touches on relations among philosophy, poetry, science and the arts. I would regard relations to encompass not only discreet bodies of knowledge, but also relationships among people. I see that you frequently post on this forum; I commend you for your efforts keeping the conversations alive.

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2 minutes ago, Donald Hess said:

Excellent timing! I was planning on drafting a syllabus for my human anatomy course today and put into writing some of my ideas regarding content and laboratory work. Instead, I've copied your post and all the quotations and will sit with them for a while. This much I know, that the primary question I'd like to explore with my students is this: If man and woman were made I the image of God, what will our study of the human body reveal about Him. As an initial  "laboratory" exercise, I may invite an art teacher to provide some basic instruction on portrait drawing and then have the students draw a self-portrait.

This is a lovely idea! You could ask the art teacher if there are any structural aspects or proportional aspects of art that the body exemplifies? I think the idea of fractals? Is exemplified as well. What other mathematical concepts we can see when studying anatomy and physiology? There are directional terms used when orienting oneself to a body right? Superior, supine, etc... sort of like mapping. And of course Latin - why was Latin chosen to be used for labeling most scientific terms? Patterns reveal a lot about a Pattern-maker. 

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On ‎11‎/‎7‎/‎2018 at 3:45 PM, Donald Hess said:

How do they (poetry & philosophy) uniquely enable us to discover connections in our chosen disciplines, our personal devotions, our daily lives? 

I found one answer to this question while reading Coleridge's Aids to Reflection. What follows is from Aphorism 1:

Quote

"In philosophy, equally as in poetry, it is the highest and most useful prerogative of genius to produce the strongest impressions of novelty, while it rescues admitted truths from the neglect caused by the very circumstance of their universal admission. Extremes meet. Truths, of all others the most awful and interesting, are too often considered as so true, that they lose the power of truth, and lie bed-ridden in the dormitory of the soul, side by side with the most despised and exploded errors."

Coleridge would likely agree with Dr. Schenk that philosophy doesn't create connections, it discovers them. And philosophy, as well as poetry, helps us to rediscover the truths that are slumbering inside us.  This prompted me to consider what truths might be lying dormant in my soul. At this time of year, what could be more awful and interesting than the Incarnation? Emmanuel dwelling among us as a man?

I suppose it could also be said that both philosophy and poetry, in their own unique way, point us to truths that are outside us, the ones that we have not yet learned. And that's where we as teachers do our part, no matter what it is that we teach. What helped me see this more clearly was watching Dr. Phillip Carey's lecture on the Concept of Truth. You can find it under the Lecture Hall series here at ClassicalU. Dr. Carey is a philosophy professor at Eastern University. It's well worth your time.

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