Melanchthon on the Philosophical Relevance of Poetry

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Sandra Bihlmaier


In my paper I will focus on Melanchthon’s concept of poetry as a legitimate means of philosophizing. I will show that he regards poetry as philosophy “arranged in verses and narratives” and that this view is grounded on his notion of perennial philosophy. I will explain this notion and emphasize Melanchthon’s specific understanding of it. In order to do so I will first (1) consider Melanchthon’s conception of philosophy which he equates with the liberal arts and delineate the significance of ancient literature for the transmission of logical, ethical and natural-philosophical knowledge. Thereby I will focus on his definition of poetryand its position amidst the liberal arts. (2) Subsequently, I will isolate citations and phrases of ancient literature which are illustratively used to substantiate moral-philosophical or naturalphilosophical arguments in Melanchthon’s theoretical writings. (3) I will show thereafter that the sentences of the poets function as authoritative arguments because Melanchthon’s view of poetry is underpinned by his own interpretation of the theory of perennial philosophy which,however, does not coincide with the Ficinian view on the philosophia perennis. (4) In my conclusions I will summarize Melanchthon’s view on ancient poetry and its relevance for the acquisition of philosophical knowledge.

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BIHLMAIER, Sandra. Melanchthon on the Philosophical Relevance of Poetry. Annals of the University of Bucharest - Philosophy Series, [S.l.], v. 65, n. 2, feb. 2017. ISSN 0068-3175. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 24 apr. 2018.