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Liberty and continuity in the political thought of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 1794-1834

Edwards, Pamela J; (1995) Liberty and continuity in the political thought of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 1794-1834. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis has two goals. The first, is to dismantle the old paradigm which suggests that Coleridge was a 'Young Radical' in the years 1794-1802, and an 'Old Tory' in the years 1803- 1834. In its place I posit instead a fundamental, evolutionary continuity in Coleridge's works from 1794-1834, works in which he typically attempted to reconcile under the same roof concerns often thought of as naturally antithetical and contradictor) (rights/duties, liberty/community, hierarchy/equality, church/state). To understand this continuity, one must explore the 'conservative' dimensions in the writings of the 'Young' Coleridge, and the 'radical' dimensions in the writings of the 'Old' Coleridge. Such a reading was pioneered in the nineteenth century by John Stuart Mill, but has been unfairly ignored because it does not fit certain polemic needs of the academic discourse on the Radical/Conservative divide of the period 1790-1830. Only by looking beyond Coleridge's often poetically hyperbolic language in isolated passages and considering his systems of reconciled dichotomies as a whole can one gain any accurate understanding of the integral link between the 'Young' and the 'Old' Coleridge. The second goal of the thesis is to restore the idea of metaphysical organicism to the central place which it held in Coleridge's political thought. Coleridge's encounter with continental Idealism perfected certain ideas which Coleridge had already developed in his youth. and led to his elaboration of a general theory of Ideas which had significant political applications in the analysis of liberty, nature, science, and religion. If one dismisses the influence of theories of ideas and metaphysics as exiguous to the political thought of Coleridge, one makes a crucial mistake which renders most of his thought unintelligible. Like Plato. Aristotle, Hobbes. Leibniz, Locke, and Hume, Coleridge was obsessed with the connexions between pure ideas and material things. His political philosophy was written to be understood in the context of his studies in natural science, metaphysics, and ideation. In order to understand Coleridge's political thought it is essential to recognize that he did see all knowledge as interwoven.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Liberty and continuity in the political thought of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 1794-1834
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: Language, literature and linguistics
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10099905
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