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Date of Award

10-1991

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

Supervisor

R. W. Vince

Abstract

The thesis examines the implications of Coleridge's claim that in the philosophy of Johann Gottlieb Fichte he had discovered the "key-stone of the arch"--a connection, in other words, between materialist and idealist ways of conceiving the world. Since a purely Fichtean philosophy seems to generate an unbridled will set over against a passive world, and to culminate in a technological attitude towards both nature and the products of human activity, the various schools of literary criticism that trace their origins to Coleridge have, to a certain extent, inherited a fascination with will and with technique. But while Coleridge undoubtedly appreciated the philosophic significance of Fichte's conception of a foundational act of self-positing, he diverges from Fichte on the proper uses of the human will. Rather than regarding the world as simply an arena in which the will exerts itself in opposition to nature, Coleridge works his way toward a dialectical philosophy in which human consciousness and nature cooperate and are reconciled. In his understanding of the dialectic as both a formal method and a way of accounting for human history, Coleridge resembles the philosopher G. W. F. Hegel more than has previously been acknowledged.

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