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Involved Knowing: On the Poetic Epistemology of the Humanities

French and Italian Department, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN 37235, USA
Philosophy and Religious Studies Program, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, University of Macao, Macau, China 
Academic Editor: Albrecht Classen
Humanities 2015, 4(4), 600-622;
Received: 9 June 2015 / Accepted: 28 September 2015 / Published: 16 October 2015
PDF [238 KB, uploaded 16 October 2015]


The humanities represent a type of knowledge distinct from, and yet encompassing, scientific knowledge. Drawing on philosophical hermeneutics in the tradition of the Geisteswissenschaften, as well as on the Latin rhetorical tradition and on Greek paideia, this essay presents humanities knowledge as “involved knowing”. Science, in principle, abstracts from the subjective, psychological conditions of knowing, including its emotional and willful determinants, as introducing personal biases, and it attempts also to neutralize historical and cultural contingencies. Humanities knowledge, in contrast, focuses attention on precisely these subjective and historical factors as intrinsic to any knowledge in its full human purport. In particular, poetry, which historically is the matrix of knowledge in all fields, including science, deliberately explores and amply expresses these specifically human registers of significance. The poetic underpinnings of knowledge actually remain crucial to human knowing and key to interpreting its significance in all domains, including the whole range of scientific fields, throughout the course of its development and not least in the modern age so dominated by science and technology. View Full-Text
Keywords: humanities; hermeneutics; prophecy; revelation; epistemology; poetry; poetics; relationality; objectivity; liberal arts humanities; hermeneutics; prophecy; revelation; epistemology; poetry; poetics; relationality; objectivity; liberal arts
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Franke, W. Involved Knowing: On the Poetic Epistemology of the Humanities. Humanities 2015, 4, 600-622.

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