Anna Christina Ribeiro: "Poe, Collingwood, and the Art/Craft Distinction"

The Higher Seminar in Aesthetics

Anna Christina Ribeiro, Texas Tech: "Poe, Collingwood, and the Art/Craft Distinction"

In The Philosophy of Composition, Edgar Allan Poe gave us the logic behind the composition of his famous poem, The Raven, claiming that ‘the work proceeded, step by step, to its completion with the precision and rigid consequence of a mathematical problem’. Some ninety years later, Roger Collingwood argued, in The Principles of Art, that there can be no logic behind the making of art properly so called, distinguishing art from craft on the basis of pre-existing rules and a pre-existing goal to be achieved. Part of Collingwood’s reason for this claim lies in his conception of art not as the arousing of emotion by preconceived means, which would involve technique or craft, plus a knowledge of which emotion one wishes to produce in her audience, but rather as the expression of emotion, a process of discovery, insofar as ‘until a man has expressed his emotion, he does not yet know what emotion it is.’ The aim of this paper is to challenge the art-craft distinction argued for by Collingwood and predominant today, on the basis of approaches to poetry such as Poe’s, approaches evinced also throughout the history of poetry.