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Is Poetry a Replacement for Religion?
While reading the articles about John Keats, something stuck out to me: the idea that poetry could be a replacement for religion. This idea states that poetry has its own pieties that could act as a replacement for religion, but I'm not sure what such pieties might be. I see poetry as being a form of sharing observations about the world. So if any pieties are found in poetry, I think they would come from our world, and poetry would just be the observance of such things. And if that is true, these pieties would come from sources such as religion or lack thereof. So what do you guys think about poetry being a possible substitute for religion? Is this a plausible claim by Keats, or could this be a sort of claim that should be disregarded?
I think this is certainly an interesting idea. In my mind religion serves three main purposes, to explain unexplainable things like the creation of the universe, to provide a moral guide for people to follow, and to give people a sense of hope that there is a power that can improve peoples' situations in life. I think that poetry can serve these functions, however I think that religion can do these more effectively.
As far as explaining the unexplainable, poetry can use figurative language and metaphors to bring very abstract events into a more relatable and understandable form. For example, he rising of the sun can be described as similar to someone waking up for work every day and going to bed at night. Poetry can also be used to provide a moral guideline, just through it's ability of showing characters acting in what many people would consider morally "good" or "bad" ways, and by describing these "good" actions in a positive light, and "bad" actions in a negative light, a basic framework for morality can be shown. Finally, poetry, like almost all forms of writing, can be written to inspire people, which can help people to try and improve their situation in life.
While I understand that you have this point of view I think that it is more than poetry is influenced by religion not the other way around. I think that religious people are poets I think we need to look at poetry as two camps. Poets most of the time are either super aithest or super religous because of just the way poetry is a format which proves for really support thoses who use large ammonts of emotions that are at play in poetry. I think that we have alot of poetry in the school of GK Chesterton where we have poetry which is reilgous. I think that we also need to see poetry does read alot like scipture so I can understand why you would see this view of poetry as a replacement for reilgon but I think that it was more likely to see it as poetry in unison with reilgon in the other way around
@leinweber Where do you think these moral guidelines come from? Do you think they come directly from the poetry? If so, where/how? Or do you think their actual source is somewhere else, and poetry is just a way of expressing these guidelines and the way the author thinks, feels, etc. about such moral guidelines. I see what you are saying about poetry inspiring people, and presenting guidelines for people to follow, but I'm not sure how poetry itself would provide these guidelines. I think both poetry and the source of moral guidelines (whether it be religion or something else) work together to reach people rather than one being the sole factor in humans' morality. I think religion is the source of these things (some people may find it elsewhere, but I think religion is the overwhelming source of morality for people), and poetry would just be a medium of expressing this.
@jacksonvon This is what I was saying in my original post. I don't really see how poetry would replace religion, but I feel like poetry is just a way to express what comes from religion. I don't think poetry itself provides real purpose or morality like religion does. So while poetry can be a medium for expressing thoughts and feelings that are derived from religion, I think it lacks the source of these thoughts and feelings that drive our purpose and morality.
@Nicole - I completely agree with you on this one. I think since poetry can be about just about anything, it is really hard to make the statement that it could replace religion. While it can be about religion and embody morals that we find in religion, it lacks the purpose for having that morality. In a religion, there is a greater purpose to be just and righteous, however I feel like with poetry, if it does suggest a morality similar to religion, it is just that a suggestion and does not give a greater purpose for this morality to be followed.
@jacksonvon I agree. At least to me I can't see a whole concept of literature being a replacement for something that already holds a strong footing, even when it comes to literature. There has definitely been some poems we have been exposed to in this class and others that are definitely influenced by religion, but that's because the author might have those beliefs. However, I think that instead of calling it a replacement for religion maybe use the phrase "a better expressor". What I mean by that is since poetry is so free form and poets really in my opinion just say whatever this is an easy way to express their views in literature without having to produce a entire book or essay.
I'm gonna have to disagree. Although poetry is a big part of literature, I don't think that it could ever replace something as big as religion. And in saying this do you mean that poetry would become a bigger form of religion? Or that it would get rid of religion altogether? Either way, I just don't see how that could be possible.
@alechayosh07 I think that all together I agree I think it is fundamentally difficult for something like literature which ultimately is a tool and compare it to something like religion which is an idea. So we have to get into the discussion of what is an idea and what is a tool is. As you said literature is an art form that is a good idea of expressing those complex ideas which are found in the world such as literature. Look at the Gothic cathedrals in Europe or the painting inside the Vatican. Is that a replacement of religion or an expression of it? Like literature, they are trying to express this idea of religious values. It is beautiful and it is powerful works but fundamentally is it just a form of expression for theses more complex ideas it is a chisel and chips away at the ideas until it finds a form for which they can express
@klynnph When I made this post, I stated that I don't agree with Keats. I said that poetry cannot provide what religion does, only that it can merely express what is derived from religion. When KEATS stated that religion could be a substitute for poetry, he said that he believes there are certain pieties that come from and are expressed by poetry. I think this suggests that poetry would in a way be its own form of religion. So, if successful, it would get rid of religion altogether. Again, I do not agree with this. I don't think poetry has the substance that religion has to completely replace it. I think poetry is just a was of expressing various things, which includes religion.
To respond to Nicole, I don't think poetry can necessarily be a replacement for religion, but rather it can be used as a symbol for it. I'm not a super religious person, so forgive me if this is not completely correct, but the bible is literature in itself. (this is just an example, not to say the bible is the sole religious symbol). So, can't poetry be used to convey the morals of each religion? Something to think about...
I think that poetry could be a replacement for religion, not as much in the sense of providing people with spiritual guidance but as something that provides humans with knowledge and insight. Poetry is always changing and adapts to the way of the world. On the other hand, religion can try to adapt, but because so many religions were started long ago, most have some pretty outdated elements to them. So, as knowledge increases over time and our culture evolve further from religious traditions, it doesn't seem unreasonable to me that it could be replaced with something else.
Poetry as religion is very interesting as an idea, but I don't think it would work in practice. As someone mentioned before, a lot of poetry is commentary on religions. There is no common element that unites all poetry like religions do. Religion also includes some form of worship or practice, and poetry lacks that. The philosophical thoughts from poetry could substitute for religious beliefs in a way, but there is still no unity. No definitive truth that a religion promises. I think you could fulfill your spiritual or religious need through reading poetry and literature. The philosophy by Plato or Aristotle can do that. I don't think that would be classified as religion.
@klynnph I agree. Not only do I think that religion is too big and has too much of a strong hold in many societies, but also religion itself cannot be compared to poetry. At first when contemplating this, I was thinking in a way, yes. Religion to me seems like a form of morals, which I believe are things that poetry could easily replace and supplement. But, from a logical standpoint I had to look up the definition of religion- "the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods." So, I do not think that poetry could ever replace a godlike power, or more importantly do what a person's God can do for them.
But, I do like this general idea. I think that poetry can absolutely substitute for a way to add morals and ideals to a person's life, and maybe for someone who is not religious this can be a form of religion in a life-guiding way.
I don't know if poetry could ever really replace religion. I think poetry is a form of representing certain morals, ideals, and themes, while religion is the actual ideals themselves. I feel that poetry can come hand in hand with religion and be incorporated into it, but to replace it overall seems difficult. Poetry is a form of literature, and religion itself is an idea. Yes, it is represented through literature, such as the Bible, but the Bible is just a tool to present these ideas. I think poetry could also be used as such a tool.
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