Artist or Philosopher?

Karl Witte argues that The Inferno falls under the category of art and literature, and is exempt from the consistency which philosophy demands.  It is Witte's position that Dante was a poet, not a philosopher, and that he was probably indifferent to the questions that have since been debated by his critics.  Witte argues that the allusions in The Inferno to famous moral systems were only casual, and that any attempt to harmonize all of the different parts of it are, therefore, a waste of time.  He uses the example of Robert Browning, who was not a professional psychologist, and also Shakespeare's “stuff that dreams are made of” not being in the orthodox variety of usual metaphysical variety as further examples of artists being different from traditional philosophers.  An opposing point of view to this is that Dante himself chose to enter the philosophical arena when he made loud proclamations to the people, and could not back off only if his ideas did not stand up to a logical examination.
Source: “Essays of Karl Witte,” translated by Philip Wicksteed 1898


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