walk as prophecies

As {Wm.] James echoed Emerson, so Emerson was echoing the romantic poets. They too urged that men should walk as prophecies of the next age rather than in the fear of God or in the light of Reason. Shelley, in his “Defense of Poetry,” deliberately and explicitly enlarged the meaning of the term “poetry.” That word, he said, “may be defined to be ‘the expression of the Imagination.’” In this wider sense, he said, poetry is “connate with the origin of man.” It was, he went on to say, “the influence which is moved not, but moves.” It is “something divine…at once the centre and circumference of knowledge; it is that which comprehends all science, and that to which science must be referred. It is at the same time the root and the blossom of all other systems of thought.” Just as the Enlightenment had deified Reason, so Shelley and other romantics deified what I have been calling “The Imagination.”

—Richard Rorty, Philosophy as Poetry (U. of Virginia Press, 2017)

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