Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772 – 1834) zijn houding tegenover Spinoza

Al lange tijd wil ik een blog maken over Coleridge, heb daartoe materiaal verzameld, maar ben er nog niet voldoende uit; dat gaat nog wel even duren. Om toch alvast een blog over Coleridge en zijn belangstelling voor Spinoza te hebben, neem ik hier de tekst uit Robert Willis in Benedict de Spinoza: his life, correspondence, and ethics [Trübner & co., 1870], waarover ik vanmorgen een blog bracht.

Samuel Taylor ColeridgeDaaraan vooraf is het nuttig te weten dat Coleridge en zijn vriend Wordsworth in het najaar van 1798 een reis naar Duitsland ondernamen, waar ze kennis maakten met de Duitse Filosofie, o.a. die van Immanuel Kant en met schrijvers als Goethe en Gotthold Lessing. Ook pikten ze er een en ander over Spinoza op.



Voorts is nuttig te weten dat Henry Crabb Robinson (1775 -1867), een Engelse journalist, dagboekschrijver en advocaat, veel heeft gedaan aan de bekendmaking van de Duitse literatuur in Engeland, vooral Goethe, nadat hij van 1800 tot 1805 in Duitsland had gestudeerd. Diens Diary, Reminiscences, and Correspondence [Thomas Sadler (Ed.), London, 1860] is een belangrijke bron van informatie over de Engelse en Duitse literatuur van zijn tijd. [Van hier]

Hier dan Willis' tekst over Coleridge die hier in de Diary, die geheel op internet staat, te vinden is:

                                    S.T. Coleridge

S.T. Coleridge in his capacity of lay-ecclesiastic and having no fear of Spinoza, requires a brief notice at our hands. H.C. Robinson in his entertaining Diary[1]  has the following passage highly characteristic of the man: 'Coleridge walked with me to A. Robinson's for my Spinoza, which I lent him. While standing in the room he kissed Spinoza's face in the title-page, and said: "This book is a gospel to me. Spinoza's philosophy, nevertheless, is false, has been demonstrated to be false, but only by that philosophy which demonstrates the falsehood of all other philosophies. Did his philosophy commence with an It is instead of an I am, Spinoza would be altogether true."

From Coleridge's marginal notes in Mr Robinson's copy of Spinoza, now to be seen on the shelves of the Library of Manchester New College, London, it appears that he heartily embraced Spinoza's fundamental principle of the Divine Immanence in all things, as distinguished from the usual anthropomorphic conceptions of God. Coleridge, however, thought that 'Spinoza began at the wrong end when he commenced with God as object. Had he, though still dogmatizing objectively, begun with the natura naturans in its simplest terms he must have proceeded per intelligentiam to the subjective, and having reached the other pole, idealism, or the I, he would have reprogressed to the equatorial point or the identity of subject and object, and would thus have finally arrived not only at the clear idea of God as absolute being, the ground of all existents (for so far he did reach, and to charge him with atheism is a gross calumny), but likewise at the faith in a living God who hath the ground of his own existence in himself. That this would have been the result had he lived a few years longer I think his Epistle lxxii. authorizes us to believe; and of so pure a soul, so righteous a spirit as Spinoza, I dare not doubt that this potential fact is received by the Eternal as actual.'

There is something that is right and beautiful in this, but something that is not easily to be understood, and something also that is certainly mistaken, so that from the whole we might feel authorized to say that Coleridge did not understand Spinoza. The 'proceeding per intelligentiam to the subjective;' 'reaching the other pole,' and 'reprogressing to the equatorial point or the identity of subject and object,' are phrases to which Coleridge may have attached a meaning, but with which we can connect none. Substantia sive Deus —that which has the ground of its existence in its essence, in itself, is the natura naturans = the Efficient Immanent cause of all, in Spinozism. The natura naturata, again, the Universe of things, is the objective manifestation of Deity; and man, gifted with intelligence and volition, as he is part of nature at large, object and subject at once, is that wherein the existence of God and of all things acquire conscious form or reality. This was probably what Coleridge aimed at but failed fully to express.

Coleridge thought the old Pantheism of Spinoza preferable to modern Deism, which he held to be but 'the hypocrisy of Materialism.'

'His doctrines assume an orthodox air, but to me they are unintelligible,' says the sensible H.C. Robinson.[2]

                                                * * *

Uit: Robert Willis (1799–1878): Benedict de Spinoza: his life, correspondence, and ethics. Trübner & co., 1870 []

[1] Vol. I., p. 399.

[2] Op. Cit. vol. ii. p. 298. Et in Arcadia Ego—I, too, have taken tea at Highgate, and listened to the 'Old man Eloquent!' The impression was precisely that which H.C. Robinson notes: After a session of several hours and an uninterrupted flood of mellifluous words, 'it was painful to me to find myself unable to recall any part of what had so much delighted me.'—lb. p. 297.
Toevoeging 24 nov. 2016.
Na dit blog versheen in april 2012 een interessante pagina  van Nicholas Halmi, "Coleridge’s Ecumenical Spinoza" [a longer version of this essay was published under the same title in Spinoza beyond Philosophy, ed. Beth Lord (Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP, 2012), 187-207]
Of English writers of the early nineteenth century, none has so sustained and well-documented an engagement with Spinozan metaphysics as Coleridge. Encountering Spinoza's monism both indirectly, through works contributing to the pantheism controversy of the 1790s, and directly, in intensive study of a collected edition of Spinoza's works in 1812-13, Coleridge repeatedly identified the Dutch philosopher with Christianity, particularly in his personal conduct, while deploring the moral implications of his supposed denial of free will. This ambivalent response to Spinoza is reflective of a fundamental and persistent tension in Coleridge's own thought between his attraction to a metaphysical monism, as the basis for postulating the unity of subject and object, and his desire to affirm Trinitarian Christianity. [cf.]



Al weer put je razend interessante informatie uit gedigitaliseerde oude boeken. Dat Coleridge wat met Spinoza had, was bekend; jij presenteert de specificatie, die hij in Duitsland opdeed. De tekst laat zien dat hij door het Teutoonse idealisme is geinfecteerd. - Overigens die Willis formuleert heel origineel en schetst Coleridge's kritiek heel duidelijk. Ik vraag mij af of zijn TTP E-vertaling inderdaad slecht is, zoals in Engeland werd beweerd. Zou eens moeten worden nagegaan; voorlopig ontbreekt mij daarvoor de tijd.