Coleridge’s Theory of Ideas

Well, I have to admit that I had been completely unaware of Coleridge as a philosopher until coming upon this Aeon Essay. But on reading it  I found much to like about what seems to have been his approach.

In particular I was impressed by the assertion that “seeing polarised debates as revealing an interdependent whole, he tried to embrace the views of his philosophical opponents, rather than simply dismiss them.” If true this would be a refreshing deviation from the impression I often got from reading philosophy that each new school was arguing against a wilfully over-literal interpretation of whatever its predecessor had tried to express in the probably always inadequate words and sentences of human language. Perhaps his poet’s ear gave him a greater understanding of the weakness of propositional language than seems to have been common among those who try to define perfect grand philosophical systems (often with the same effectiveness as the famous blind men studying an elephant without an understanding of the difference between “has” and “is”).

And I also like many aspects of how his ‘polar philosophy’ deals with subjective and objective ideas and how he seems to have thought of the age-old stress between thinking of parts and wholes (the many vs the one) as related to different mental functions (which some might now, perhaps too simplistically, identify with left and right brain hemispheres).

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