The path beyond philosophy and poetry: María Zambrano’s poetic reason

Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk


Standing at the intersection between philosophy, literature, cultural studies and exilic studies, María Zambrano’s poetic reason remains one of the most intriguing and promising proposals in twentieth century intellectual history. Scholars today continue to debate whether poetic reason belongs to the field of philosophy, poetry, mysticism or whether it constitutes a form of knowledge or even a methodology. There is widespread agreement the poetic reason is closely linked to the experience of exile, but the question remains: what is poetic reason? This paper will argue that it is neither a form of philosophy nor a form of poetry. Here, the word "poetic" refers to poiesis in the sense of creation, specifically creating through the word. Still, it goes beyond that. This paper contends that experience, language and art all constitute the cornerstones of poetic reason and that, in essence, poetic reason is nothing less than a new framework from which to think and to say the otherwise ineffable; a framework from which to dream of and engender new realities through symbolism, metaphor and the resignification of ordinary vocabulary.
Having spent forty-five years in exile, the relevance of this Spanish Republican thinker has only been acknowledged in recent decades, which has resulted in an increased interest in recuperating her work and in reassessing the significance of her intellectual contribution. This renewed interest in Zambrano has led in an extensive number of publications which explore her ideas. Nevertheless, more needs to be done to unravel the implications of her legacy and to explore the transformative potential of her poetic reason in our contemporary world.
Period5 Dec 20196 Dec 2019
Event title80th Anniversary of the Republican Exile of 1939: Lessons from and for a Modern World
Event typeConference
LocationPreston, United Kingdom
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • María Zambrano
  • poetic reason
  • Spanish Philosophy