Dale E. Snow (Loyola University)

Project research abstract

The Evolution of Schelling’s and Coleridge’s Theories of Matter

Coleridge often claimed that the similarities of his thought to Schelling’s was due not to direct influence, much less plagiarism, but their shared intellectual background and inspirations. I explore one sense in which this may have been true, and examine how Coleridge employs one of the key insights he shares with Schelling: the idea that matter, as reflected in natural entities, has an educative and even revelatory function. One of Coleridge’s longest quotations from Schelling is from a minor polemic of 1806, in which Schelling clearly identifies his quarrel with the science of his time; it is reminiscent of Coleridge’s own criticisms of empiricist science. I discuss the neoplatonic roots of this set of ideas, and how Schelling and Coleridge both argued for, and in their later writings thought through, an understanding of nature which could serve to aid in our recovery from our alienation from it.

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