Poetry is a genre of literature that uses distinctive style and rhythm to communicate experience, emotions, and ideas with special intensity. It could even be argued that poems are less artistically limited than other modes of visual expression (e.g. paintings), since they are not restricted to a determinate visual scene. Instead, poems are intersubjective, they embody the unique experiences of more than one mind.
Notable differences between poetry other fine arts:
The function of the imagination for a visual mode of representation differs from a poem. While a painting visually represents physical objects to communicate emotions, experience, and ideas, poems use syntax, grammar, and logical continuity to accomplish the same task.
Can Poetry Be Reduced to a Sub-Category of Philosophy?
In the Republic, Plato fiercely criticizes poetry, denying it any type of intellectual standing or cognitive dimension by characterizing poems as mere imitations concerned solely with the world of appearance. The following is a cursory list of notable differences and similarities between philosophy and poetry.
Notable Differences Between Philosophy and Poetry: Aesthetic/Formal
Poetry is purposefully open-ended; it does not aim to preach value. Rather, the poet engages in a metaphorical meaning-making process that is intersubjective, or universal to all people. Unlike poetry philosophy is not intersubjective, it is dialectical. Philosophy consists of a logical discussion or analysis of ideas and opinions aimed at establishing some objective conclusion.
Poetry is more concerned with beauty or the appreciation of beauty, the poet captures the human experience in a way that is both aesthetically satisfying and appealing. Unlike poetry, philosophy is more technical, the philosopher endeavors to rationally define the human experience.
Finally, poetry embodies real human experience. In other words, poetry is meaningful insofar as it provides a sensuous and relatable representation of common experience.
Notable Similarities: Intellectual Elements of Philosophy and Poetry
Both poetry and philosophy function as meaning-making processes (or interpretations of life) that help us make sense of the world, they account for human values that are sought or worth seeking.
Much like philosophy, poetry has both moral and social value.
Based on these rough similarities and differences, it seems as though poetry is not essentially philosophical. However, some poems can engage in a less technical form of philosophical inquiry. Much like the philosopher, the intention of the philosopher-poet is to make sense of the world or capture the nature of human experience. Poetry supplements philosophical inquiry by restoring the philosophical examination of life to the immediacy of human experience.