Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Something I Read #2 — Coleridge, Lectures on Shakespeare

This is found in Coleridge on Shakespeare:The Text of the Lectures of 1811-12, edited by R.A. Foakes (1971; pg. 41). It is from the diary of John Payne Collier, who shorthand notes are the only original source for Coleridge's lectures. This moment in the diary is from his description of an evening where Coleridge was one of the guests of his father. The diary date is Monday, 21 October 1811, four years before he writes the Biographia Literaria.

In religion Coleridge is completely an enthusiast, and maintains that it must be founded upon moral feeling, and not upon reason: it must be built on the passions, and not on the understandings of mankind. In his ind, the moment you began to reason, that moment you ceased to be religious. For this reason he denied that Unitarians had no religion: theirs was a theory: he had been brought up to the Church, but he did not reason upon it: he could not do it: if any person asked him why he believed in the existence of a God, his answer was because he ought: but he would not attempt to prove the existence of God, as many did from his works: no: if he acknowledged a Creator every feeling of his heart, every being in his works, were in harmony and vibrated with the notion: if he did not acknowledge a God, all was confusion and disorder. he therefore believed in God because he ought, and could give no other reason; nor would he seek for any.

Two ideas stand to the front. First, how it describes the unity of morality and poetry (and the third, philosophy), grounded not upon a priori or Christian historicism or dogma, but upon the foundation of the individual psyche in direct experience with the cosmos.

Second, how much the language describes the Jungian archetype that underlies the divine, the psychical ground for understanding that direct experience with the cosmos.

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