Coleridge and the Psychology of Romanticism
In addition to being the leading philosopher of English Romanticism and one of its greatest poets, Coleridge explores the dynamics of consciousness and mental functioning more extensively than any of his contemporaries. Here his psychological theories are compared with his diverse exemplifications of Romanticism's self-reflexive quest for transcendence, showing how he continually highlights the circular and mutual influence of thought and emotion underlying Romantic idealism and the cult of the sublime. Coleridge's view of consciousness as an irreducible continuum of feelings and ideas, it is argued, is closely paralleled by his own pursuit of emotions which themselves inform his metaphysical theories. His view of mind thus resists the determinism espoused by eighteenth- as by twentieth-century thinkers, yet also reflects precisely the patterns of consciousness involved in his and other Romantics' flight from quotidian experience into ideals of unity, transcendence, and freedom.