The Ideology of Imagination: Subject and Society in the Discourse of Romanticism

By Forest Pyle | Go to book overview

CHAPTER I
COLERIDGE The Institution of Imagination

"Revolution in Philosophy"

About midway through Chapter Nine of the Biographia Literaria, Coleridge, acknowledging his intellectual debts, pays Kant the following tribute: "The writings of the illustrious sage of Königsberg, the founder of the Critical Philosophy, more than any other work, at once invigorated and disciplined my understanding. The originality, the depth, and the compression of the thoughts . . . took possession of me as with a giant's hand."1 The "writings of the illustrious sage of Königsberg" provoked nothing less than a genuine "revolution in philosophy," one that, Coleridge asserts, has been "completed" by the work of Kant's followers. "To Schelling" in particular "we owe the completion, and most important victories of this revolution in philosophy" ( 1: 163). Coleridge follows this tribute with an accounting of his "obligations" to the "system" of "Critical Philosophy" and a declaration of his enlistment in this revolutionary campaign: "To me it will be happiness and honor enough, should I succeed in rendering the system itself intelligible to my countrymen, and in the application of it to the most awful subjects for the most important purposes" ( 1: 163-64). Coleridge thus dedicates himself to the importation of this "revolution in philosophy" to England, to the English translation and "application"

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