James Taylor describes his work as nothing new or revolutionary, but rather an effort of ''philosophical archeology,'' an ''attempt to resuscitate a nearly forgotten mode of knowledge.'' This ''poetic knowledge'' (so-called by St. Thomas Aquinas) has little to do with our modern connotations of either word. Rather, it is a mode of being which hearkens back to classical and medieval times, a ''spontaneous act of the external and internal senses with the intellect, integrated and whole, rather than an act associated with the powers of analytic reasoning.'' A knowledge from the inside out, rather than a mere knowing about. From this sort of organic understanding, explains Taylor, the objects and art of a culture naturally emerge -- a celebration of the ordinary as wonderful. After tracing the history of poetic knowledge (quite frankly, so that the reader can begin his own education on the matter) through Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Benedict and the beginning of its demise with Decartes, Taylor documents modern voices for this type of education including the Maslacq school begun by Andr Charlier in France (mid-1940s) as well as a two-year Integrated Humanities Program at the University of Kansas (mid-1970s). His study is a fascinating look at what has been, and what might be again, retrieved by reintegrating intellectual understanding with natural craft and trade. As Andr Charlier once commented when asked about his school, ''It is a thing of which I would be incapable to explain, because I don't know what I made there... We were a handful of friends -- students and professors -- who were open to one another and to the taste of the truth.''
An Eighth Day View:
This book rediscovers a traditional mode of knowledge that remains viable today. Contrasted to the academic and cultural fads often based on the scientific methodology of the Cartesian legacy, or any number of trendy experiments in education, Poetic Knowledge returns to the freshness and importance of first knowledge, a knowledge of the senses and the passions.
"Poetic knowledge" is not the knowledge of poetry, nor is it even knowledge in the sense that we often think of today, that is, the mastery of scientific, technological, or business information. Rather, it is an intuitive, obscure, mysterious way of knowing reality, not always able to account for itself, but absolutely essential if one is ever to advance properly to the higher degrees of certainty. From Socrates to the Middle Ages, and even into the twentieth century, the case for poetic knowledge is revealed with the care of philosophical archeology. Taylor demonstrates the effectiveness of the poetic mode of education through his own observations as a teacher, and two experimental "poetic" schools in the twentieth century.