Coleridge, Philosophy and Religion: Aids to Reflection and by Douglas Hedley

By Douglas Hedley

Coleridge's relation to his German contemporaries constitutes the hardest challenge in assessing his status as a philosopher. For the final half-century this dating has been defined, eventually, as parasitic. for this reason, Coleridge's contribution to spiritual concept has been visible basically when it comes to his poetic genius. This ebook revives and deepens the overview of Coleridge as a philosophical theologian in his personal correct. Coleridge had a severe and artistic relation to, and kinship with, German Idealism. in addition, the relevant impulse in the back of his engagement with that philosophy is traced to the extra instant context of English Unitarian-Trinitarian controversy of the eighteenth and 19th centuries. The publication re-establishes Coleridge as a thinker of faith and as an essential resource for modern theological mirrored image.

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Religion is the awareness of man's natural estrangement from the ground of being: his sinfulness. The Christian religion is the historical and symbolic expression of the return of ®nite beings to God. Christianity is the spiritual religion because it incarnates and enunciates an eternal intelligible principle: the dying and rising of the divine word. We argue that Coleridge's rejection of voluntarism, and his Platonic insistence upon God as de®ned ± even constrained ± by the law of his goodness, help to explain his rejection of Schelling's philosophical theology, as well as his objection to Paley.

The Cambridge Platonists play the central role not least because they were professional philosophers (unlike Hobbes and Locke) in eminent positions in the University of Cambridge: Whichcote was the Provost of King's, Cudworth was Master of Clare and Christ's. Their in¯uence extended to major ®gures of the early eighteenth century such as Locke, Ray, or Shaftesbury. 44 Ralph Cudworth is the most important because his True Intellectual System of the Universe, a defence of metaphysical theism and the Christian Platonic Trinity, became a handbook of philosophical ideas: Cudworth's historiography provided the foundations for the German histories of philosophy of the eighteenth century.

Coleridge could not have known the full-blown natural theology of Schelling and Hegel, but only fragments and outlines ± of which Schelling's Philosophie und Theologie, Vorlesungen uÈber die Methode des akademischen Studiums, Bruno, and the Freiheitsschrift were the most signi®cant. platonism In his Marginalia on Thomas Gray Coleridge writes of the `little, according to my convictions at least, the very little of proper Platonism contained in the written books of Plato' (Marg. ii. 866). Until the eighteenth century `Platonism' referred to Plato's dialogues, the commentaries of the Academy, the comments of certain Church Fathers, and often esoteric writings of vaguely Platonic provenance.

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