A Blupete Biography Page

Coleridge's Philosophy, Part 8 to the Life & Works of
Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Mill thought Coleridge to be one of "the two great seminal minds" of early nineteenth-century England, the other being Bentham; though, unlike Bentham, Coleridge "asserted the primacy of the transcendent imagination." William Hazlitt:
"All his [Coleridge's] ideas ... are like a river, flowing on forever, and still murmuring as it flows, discharging its waters and still replenished --
And so by many nooks it strays,
With willing sport to the wild ocean!"44
The philosopher which had the greatest impact on Coleridge was David Hartley (1705-57). Hartley, an English philosopher, was educated at Jesus College, Cambridge, and became a fellow; it will be recalled that Coleridge went there during the years 1791-4. Berkeley also had a significant impact on Coleridge's thought, especially in the earlier years.45 At another point in his life, Coleridge delved into the philosophy of the Dutch philosopher, Spinoza.

"It was early in the year, 1801, that the intellect of Kant first took hold of him [Coleridge], as he significantly expresses it, with 'giant hands'."46 In Kant's system, as Shawcross explains,47 we are but only able to comprehend observable phenomena and this was but parts of an interconnected whole that cannot be comprehended by the human mind. As Coleridge put it: the universe of which we are conscious is but "merely a mass of little things." Now, I shall observe, by way of commentary, that this view, that we as humans are capable of only comprehending but parts of the universe, may be perfectly correct. The difficulty is met when we see people going about filling in the blanks out of their pure imaginations and thus to proceed to build "castles in the air" which the rest of us are unable to falsify (see Popper). As for Coleridge, it is almost needless to add, his imagination was fueled by opium.



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