“One belief is that poetry is worthy in itself. Another is that this worth must be judged, not measured. That is, this worth cannot be abstracted from the poem like the wavelength of a light from its colour, and given a measure. It must be judged, as it must be made, by the whole soul of a man. That is why great criticism, like great poems, has not been written by little men.” [pp. 8‒9]
He observes there has been a historical development of ideas against this belief, a denial of the belief “by Coleridge and now by his pupil I.A. Richards” who hold the contrary “unspoken belief that only that can be judged which can be measured. It is the belief that science is the only way to knowledge. This belief has grown as science has grown wider. From the hopes of the Augustans it has grown to the boundless pride of to-day. I do not think that it is chance that poets have grown so much worse in the same time.” [p.9]
Bronowski, a passionate advocate for the role of science in the world, and famous for his TV Series The Ascent of Man, stands for the distinct form of truth which poetry strives for, distinct from the kinds of truth accessible by science.
“In science, that is true which can be checked by others. Science therefore finds its knowledge of the world by mass measurement, that is by social means. It finds it through the senses, and what it finds is never true but more and more nearly true. This holds of physics, of history, and also of psychology.” [p.10]
The kind of truth that poetry can access is of a different order: “I believe that the mind of man has a steady shape which is the truth. We know the truth about the mind by looking from this a priori truth outward.” [p.10]
“Great poets have thought that poetry is its own end. Had they thought otherwise they would have turned to something which is an end. Only small poets like Shelley have held to poetry although they have not thought it an end.” [p.16]