to be a way for us to enter into thought. "Science does not think," we said in an earlier lecture. Science does not think in the sense in which thinkers think. Still, it does not at all follow that thinking need pay no attention to the sciences. The statement "science does not think"" is not a license under which thinking is free to set itself up out of the blue, so to speak, simply by thinking something up.
Yet we have placed thinking close to poesy, and at a distance from science. Closeness, however, is something essentially different from the vacuous leveling of differences. The essential closeness of poesy and thinking is so far from excluding their difference that, on the contrary, it establishes that difference in an abysmal manner. This is something we moderns have trouble understanding.
For us, poesy has long since been a part of literature, and thinking likewise. find it fitting that poesy and its history are dealt with in literary history. It would be foolish to find fault with this situation, which has reasons of long standing, or even to attempt changing it over night. And yet—Homer, Sappho, Pindar, Sophocles, are they literature? No! But that is the way they appear to us, and the only way, even when we are engaged in demonstrating by means of literary history that these works of poetry really are not literature.
Literature is what has been literally written down, and copied, with the intent that it be available to a reading public. In that way, literature becomes the object of widely diverging interests, which in turn are once more stimulated by means of literature—through literary criticism and promotion. Now and then, an individual may find his way out of the literature industry, and find his way reflectively and even edifyingly to a poetic work; but that is not enough to secure for poesy the freedom of its natural habitat. Besides, poesy must first itself determine and reach that habitat.