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Coleridge and the pantheism controversy

Berkeley, Richard

Description

My thesis is a literary and philosophical examination of the relationships between Coleridge, Spinoza, and the pantheism controversy. My fundamental claim is that the relationship between Coleridge and his German sources is mediated by his awareness of the controversy, and can therefore be best understood by making reference to a wide range of the texts which were involved in it, and the relationships between these texts. The central focus of the thesis is on the concept of interpretation,...[Show more]

dc.contributor.authorBerkeley, Richard
dc.date.accessioned2012-12-11T05:55:31Z
dc.date.created2000-11
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/1885/9526
dc.description.abstractMy thesis is a literary and philosophical examination of the relationships between Coleridge, Spinoza, and the pantheism controversy. My fundamental claim is that the relationship between Coleridge and his German sources is mediated by his awareness of the controversy, and can therefore be best understood by making reference to a wide range of the texts which were involved in it, and the relationships between these texts. The central focus of the thesis is on the concept of interpretation, since it amounts to an analysis of Coleridge's interpretation of a variety of texts. I draw on the theoretical framework developed by Gadamer to establish a model of the manner in which the interests or "pre-conceptions" of the interpreter are constructive of the interpretation. From this model I develop two major strategies for dealing with the material. The first strategy is the obvious one of analysing Coleridge's interpretations with an awareness of his background interests. The second, and more interesting strategy, is to reverse the model, and examine Coleridge's interpretations in order to uncover his interests, which inevitably leave traces in the nature of his interpretation. I therefore conduct a close textual analysis of Coleridge's relationship with the texts of the pantheism controversy; especially Spinoza's Ethics, Jacobi's Concerning the Doctrine of Spinoza, Mendelssohn's Morgenstunden, and Schelling's On Human Freedom. I consider not only his statements about these and related texts, but also his marginal annotations on them, and even plagiarisms from them. Indeed, the annotations and plagiarisms of the same text are often closely related, so that analysing them together is extremely fruitful. As a result I am able to develop an account of Coleridge's interactions with these texts that suggests a more complex engagement with them than has been previously suggested. I also examine some of Coleridge's later texts, such as the Biographia and the Logic, in terms which demonstrate that the relationship between Coleridge's later thought and the pantheism controversy is more profound and direct than is usually supposed. The central mot of the controversy was the idea that the pursuit of rational thought might lead to Spinozistic results. I argue that Coleridge himself is deeply concerned that his own thought might collapse into Spinozism or pantheism, and that his concept of God might suffer from typically pantheistic problems, such as the problem of evil. My final argument is that Coleridge's conceptions of the Trinity, Imagination, Reason, Understanding, and Truth, actually utilise philosophical mechanisms and arguments derived from the texts of the pantheism controversy. Indeed, I even identify some sources for Coleridge's texts which appear to have gone unnoticed. I also argue that Coleridge's concept of the Trinity has markedly pantheistic features, but that he attempts to transform these elements, in order to develop a conception which safeguards the perfection and personality of God, and enables a solution to the problem of evil. My ultimate conclusion is that this process, although philosophically problematic, displays an integrity of thought which is not acknowledged by some of Coleridge's more critical commentators.
dc.language.isoen_AU
dc.titleColeridge and the pantheism controversy
dc.typeThesis (PhD)
dcterms.valid2001
local.description.notesDr Graham Gullum and Dr Udo Thiel
local.description.refereedYes
local.type.degreeDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)
dc.date.issued2012-12-11
local.contributor.affiliationAustralian National University
local.request.emaillibrary.digital-thesis@anu.edu.au
local.request.nameDigital Theses
CollectionsRestricted Theses

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