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From Anima Poetae: From the Unpublished Note-books, by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, ed.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

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