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Coleridge sorting out Renaissance from Counter-Renaissance minds

Wednesday, 9 August 2017 at 21:05

Portrait of Coleridge on Dr John Dunn. Samuel Taylor Coleridge by Thomas Phillips

What Coleridge is separating here (though he would not have used my terminology), are writers, poets and thinkers into two distinct groups.

The first group is representative of Renaissance humanism. The second group is representative of Counter-Renaissance thinking.

Was Wordsworth included in the first out of loyalty?

Or might not his Spinozist/Priestlian pantheism have excluded him?

The two groups also illustrate the sharp turn in Coleridge’s own thinking. The young Unitarian Coleridge would almost certainly have put himself in the second group, even whilst being challenged by the company. But by the time he wrote this note in Anima Poetae, he had long ago shot the Albatros of necessitarian nature down.

© John Dunn.

Let me not confound the discriminating character and genius of a nation with the conflux of its individuals in cities and reviews. Let England be Sir Philip Sidney, Shakspere, Milton, Bacon, Harrington, Swift, Wordsworth; and never let the names of Darwin, Johnson, Hume, fur it over. If these, too, must be England let them be another England; or, rather, let the first be old England, the spiritual, Platonic old England, and the second, with Locke at the head of the philosophers and Pope [at the head] of the poets, together with the long list of Priestleys, Paleys, Hayleys, Darwins, Mr. Pitts, Dundasses, &c., &c., be the representatives of commercial Great Britain. These have [indeed] their merits, but are as alien to me as the Mandarin philosophers and poets of China.

From Anima Poetae: From the Unpublished Note-books, by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, ed. Ernest Hartley Coleridge, 1895.

Counter-Renaissance and neo-feudalism

Thursday, 3 August 2017 at 21:01

Spinoza on Dr John Dunn. Following the ousting of James II and the 1688 Dutch invasion of England (dubbed the Glorious Revolution by the victors), the financial aristocracy of the City of London, the funds of the landed aristocracy and the fund of the royal family itself, became a single creature, inseparable from the banking interests which had moved from Venice to the Netherlands and Switzerland. If the Swiss and the Dutch supported both sides in the Napoleonic wars, the City of London also profited richly from the financing of Napoleon's wars.

This was a metamorphosed amalgam of the feudal interests that had served Spinoza’s free-trading progenitors well, but which the Renaissance and the rise of the Renaissance state had ended. This was the pre-Renaissance milieu to which Spinoza as a Marrano Jew wished to return. This was the neo-feudal future for which he provided the underpinning philosophy, which was based on Luria’s kabbalism of exile and return.

© John Dunn.

Abandon hope

Wednesday, 26 July 2017 at 19:54

Abandon hope picture on Dr John Dunn.

For me, the works of Spinoza, Coleridge and Dante are bound together one way or the other.

Spinoza described as substance his concept of God, or the One, Ein Sof. Subjectivity is subsumed within substance, never allowing for clear separation of the two.

Substance is his great and unfounded presupposition. Spinoza began his Ethics with definitions, starting with the ‘cause of itself’ or causa sui. Definition 3 says: ‘By substance, I understand that which is in itself and is conceived through itself; in other words, that, the conception of which does not need the conception of another thing from which it must be formed.’

Coleridge lamented that Spinoza’s ‘error consisted not so much in what he affirms, as in what he has omitted to affirm or rashly denied . . . that he saw God in the ground only and exclusively, in his Might alone and his essential Wisdom, and not likewise in his moral, intellectual, existential and personal Godhead’. In short, the Ethics lacked the theoretical basis for an ethics.

'If like Spinoza', wrote Coleridge, 'I had contemplated God as the infinite Substance (Substantia Unica) as the incomprehensible mindless, lifeless, formless Substans of all Mind, Life and Form—there would be for me neither Good nor Evil – Yet Pain, & Misery would be—& would be hopeless'.

Dante had described the place where hope had been abandoned. ‘Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate’, ‘Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.’

© John Dunn.

Until he meets Beatrice

Sunday, 9 July 2017 at 21:15

Beatrice and Dante on Dr John Dunn.

Beatrice and Dante by Jiří Anderle

I am reminded of a statement attributed to the French Catholic novelist, Francois Mauriac: ‘A chance encounter between two people can have implications for eternity.’

He, in turn, was influenced in this idea by Gabriel Marcel.

What did he mean by this?

‘Relationships between things are external, relationships between people are internal.’ (Gabriel Marcel)

Intersubjectivity, is lived internally.

Through the encounter my life was changed forever.

Why? This was the metaphysical question and the answer is to be found here inside of me.

Eros led me

Lust encouraged me

Loss destroyed me

Rejection and humiliation led me to the wall of fire.…

Shortly before sunset, the Poets are greeted by the Angel of Chastity, who instructs them to pass through the wall of fire. By reminding Dante that Beatrice can be found in the Earthly Paradise on the other side, Virgil finally persuades Dante to pass through the intense fire. After the poets pass through the flame, the sun sets and they lie down to sleep on the steps between the final terrace and the Earthly Paradise.
(Purg. XXVII)

Virgil urges Dante to explore the Earthly Paradise until he meets Beatrice. Before sending him off, Virgil blesses him with these words: ‘there I crown and miter you over yourself.’

Crowned and mitred one, the individual through which all future and all past exists as now.

The self-generating, self-evolving, self-existent, self-manifesting and self-born

© John Dunn.
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