Questions:

1) How does Sidney use the term idea in today’s reading?

  • Intangible concepts, beyond the realm of appearances; poets can access them; people who read can learn how or why a maker made something
  • Poesy expresses ideas – main point is in the idea; teach and delight; speaking picture
  • A concept, from which flows a story, which can alter behavior through teaching and delighting

2)What are the three kinds of poesy Sidney lists? Which one(s) does Sidney praise the most and why?

  • Poetry about God’s excellencies (either Judeo-Christian or Greco-Roman)
  • Poetry about “philosophy” (subject-specific study of ethics, nature, history, astronomy)
  • Mimetic poetry with the aim to teach and delight. This is the most praised category because it is practical and it can present idealized events and people to emulate.

3)In a debate between a philosopher, a historian, and a poet about whose subject is the best, who wins and why? (according to our reading)

  • Poets win! Philosophers are too abstract and general. Historians are the opposite – too tied to specifics. They talk about things a long time ago that may be less relevant now.
  • Example (historian) and precept (philosopher). Poet is the best because he has both qualities – can mediate between precept and example, abstract and particular.
  • Both philosophers and historians end up using poesy to accomplish their goals, but poesy is better than either because it can go between the abstract and the general to better “teach and delight.”
  • Poesy is better at producing practical results, behavior – doing versus simply knowing
  • Philosophers and historians are bound by subjects; poets can manipulate nature and create their own worlds
  • Historian can only write truth about the past – doesn’t actually change people. Philosophy talks about theoretical virtues. The poet teaches virtues actively.

Argument maps

Categories: Defending Society