Beyond Representation: Philosophy and Poetic Imagination

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The last stage requires the active understanding, which is the intellect fully irradiated by reason, itself irradiated by Nous. Copernican reason Aristarchus allowed us to comprehend the universal verus the Ptolemaic intellect which kept us 'earthbound' in terms of our point of reference. Our individuation culminates in what Coleridge terms "the fullness of intelligence. The light of reason is thus both the origin and the abiding basis of individuality. Without the positive presence of reason to the understanding [intellect], there is no individuality, only the detachment which individual being presupposes.

Reason, in both its negative and its positive aspect, is the individualiser. Reason itself unirradiated by the Nous leads to the dominance of the collective Hegel's State over the individual. To go from the indirect moonlight of mere intellect mirrored through sense experience to the direct sunlight of active understanding irradiated by reason is to go from exterior perception of appearances to a universal ulterior appercetion of phenomena phenomenology ; "it is to pass on from fancy's business of arranging and re-arranging the 'products of destruction, the cadavera rerum,' to imagination's business with 'the existence of absolute life,' or Being, which is the 'correlative of truth.

The power that allows reason to act on the intellect so as to raise it and make it active, as understanding, is the creative or secondary imagination. And the apparent contradictions revealed initially by passive reason, are really the dynamic functions of life, and this can only be perceived by the active power of reason, which involves the imagination. And reason is also part of the Logos for Coleridge "the Word or Logos is life, and communicates life" and it is also "light, and communicates light," the light of positive reason, or Nous.

The negative form of reason, which is the capability God gave man to comprehend the divine light, is light in its potential form, though the darkness of the mere intellect may fail to comprehend it. It is language, not sense experience, that orients mind to reality. For Coleridge, language in its highest form, is the very tool and vehicle for understanding reality and the basis for the evolution of mind and consciousness.

He takes as the foundation our immediate living experience of things Thomas Reid's Common Sense as well as of our very self - the mind as dynamic act. Words, for Coleridge, reveal the creative mind, working via the power of imagination versus the power of fancy to reveal reality not to create artifacts of experience.

However, there is a difference between the popular, descriptive use of language, which "as objects are essentially fixed and dead," and the more serious discursive, scholarly use of language. Beyond that there is the 'best part of language', the language of disclosure, which discloses by the very use of precise, desynonimized terms. Here, the full mind, both mental and noetic, not just the intellect and reason, is active in establishing the meaning of words.

Disclosive language taps into and contains the 'fullness of intelligence', expressing living experience Erlebniss in German. This disclosive language is also one that evolves along with man's consciousness and the progress of science, in that terms come more and more to be desynonymized, such as the famous distinction Coleridge made between imagination and fancy and awareness and consciousness. Coleridge's view was in contrast to the predominant Lockean tradition: for Locke, static concepts and their verbal exponents arise from experience, whereas for Coleridge the proper use of language is a dynamic or romantic event between mind and nature.

Thus, for Coleridge, language, that is, the different true forms of the one Logos, discloses to us the very content and activity of cognition, and that since 'mind is an act', language is the means for the evolution of mind and consciousness Logos, the evolver. Initially, Coleridge focussed on poetry as the source of living experience in words, but later came to understand that poetry was 'essentially ideal" and that the poetic imagination 'struggles to idealize' and to "spread project a tone around forms, incidents and situations.

The Dream Of Life - Alan Watts

This involves a participative capacity of mind to create a dynamic between mind and word, so that the minds of the reader or listener and the writer or speaker create a co-adunation or compresence Samuel Alexander. This capacity involves not just the abstracting Latin intellect mens , but the re-emergent participative Greek nous.

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Coleridge referred to this new capacity of mind, using the nous to irradiate the Latin mens , as an 'ulterior consciousness'. And this capacity of mind to participate mind is an 'ethereal medium. The medium of the compresence of minds "spiritual intercourse" is "the common ethereal element of their being, the tremulous reciprocations [tremulations] of which propagate themselves even to the inmost of the soul.

Language is both an expression and motive force for the evolution of consciousness; the history of words is a history of mind see Owen Barfield 's History in English Words.

For Coleridge, creation is "the language of God" Logos , and this can be read in the realms of nature, culture and spirit. At the core of the idea of romanticism is romantic cognosis, or 'co-gnosis', the dynamic interplay of masculine and feminine forces and energies in the mind and imagination, involving a dyadic unit of consciousness right from the beginning Genesis: 'male and female made he them'. Coleridge speaks of "the feminine mind and imagination," and provides the polaric example of the two giants of English literature, Shakespeare "darts himself forth and passes into all the forms of human character and passion" and Milton "attracts all forms and things to himself" which "shape themselves anew" in him.

For Coleridge, "imagination is both active and passive", that is, masculine and feminine in nature. He also provides a similar polarity between the essentially passive primary imagination, that spontaneously, reactively configures sensory experience "a repetition in the finite mind of the eternal act of creation in the infinite I AM" , and the active secondary imagination that 'dissolves, diffuses and dissipates in order to re-create' via the higher state of mind and consciousness.

Coleridge also distinguished between the poetic imagination, which is essentially projective, and the philosophic imagination, which is essentially pro-active "the scared power of self-intuition, [which] can interpret and understand the symbols" inherent in the world around us. For Coleridge, the life which is in each of us is in other people and things out there as well, allowing for communication between Mother nature and human nature, as well as between individuals.

At the level of mind, ideas are 'mysterious powers, living, seminal, formative' and "essentially one with the germinal causes in nature. In addition to the dynamic polarity between masculine and feminine principles of mind and consciousness, Coleridge identified "the pleasure principle" as the "chief principle" and "great spring of activity of our minds", from which "the sexual appetence and all the passions connected with it take their origin. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. What is Life? Were such a question proposed, we should be tempted to answer, what is not Life that really is?

Main article: Coleridge's theory of life. London: ed. Watson, MD. Imagination in Coleridge.


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London: MacMillan. Archived from the original on Humanities E-Book. Introduction and Orientation. What Coleridge Thought. London: Wesleyan University Press. Books and Writers kirjasto. Finland: Kuusankoski Public Library. Archived from the original on 29 May Encyclopedia Metropolitana. Retrieved 19 May Jan—Mar Journal of the History of Ideas.

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Archived from the original on 27 July Retrieved 14 July Categories : Romanticism Epistemology. Namespaces Article Talk. Views Read Edit View history. Languages Add links. This is formulated as an exhortation, or an expectation, addressed to a you that might well be the speaker or a future poet. Chorality is crucial to the definition of lyric in W. It is a matter of re-citation more than mere repetition. Re-citation inscribes the renewed gesture and the new self in a long unbroken [p.

In its flight, the arrow is more than itself because of the power the bowstring has given to it, not so much for the target it is directed towards. A different ontological status makes any unmediated contact between human beings and the divine impossible. In a Cavalcantian morbid attitude, this is the effect that the bodily presence of Beatrice has on Dante in the first paragraphs of the Vita nova.

It makes sense only when read as a metonym of the whole genre — like the antique tessera that was just a shard by itself, but a message when fitted to its matching piece. Gestures give form to the speech more than address a thematic content, as topoi , motifs, and themes seem to do at different levels. Lyric gestures concern the linguistic practice and show a certain degree of awareness of its limits. This is another feature that Rilke could find in the Vita nova , where Dante attempts to re-cite himself, that is, to assemble old and scattered lyrics turning them into a linear progression towards Christian love and a unitary story of his love for Beatrice.

Yet the story ends up being less linear than expected and the linear process of conversion to Beatrice is interrupted by reversions. An evidence of this problematic is the fact that, as the supposedly teleological narrative proceeds, the new poetic modality — the stilo della loda style of praise — is not consistently deployed. The poems in-between dangerously revert to previous modalities of loving and poetry writing. Even the poetic supersession that Dante traces in a sort of progressive figural fulfillment is more problematic than sometimes admitted.

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In the final lines of the former, after the vision, he raises his eyes to Heaven and addresses Beatrice directly ll. Rilke retains the towardness of the speech but empties the destination. Of course, there is a historical reason for this.

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In Dante, divine love is granted to the human being: God calls the individual to respond to his love. He seems rather to propose the intrinsic value of the practice of a perpetual calling upon the silent other: a return to a human position. Rilke, Werke , ii : pp.

This way Rilke seems to revert to a poetics of calling that values the practice of voicing itself — the same poetics on which, according to the first elegy, secular Petrarchism relies in its poetic practice. By mentioning the Italian Renaissance poet Gaspara Stampa, the poem traces its own tradition of lyric subjectivities. They seem to share a long-lasting form of love and a modality of lyric speech that do not expect reciprocation , but are performed by the [p. Poesia, creazione, conoscenza Rome: Carocci Editore, , pp. The divine is not represented in lyric poetry, it cannot be; rather, poetry embodies the human effort to keep calling.

The historical form of subjectivity inscribed in a poem can vary according to cultural and historical circumstances, but the discursive mode seems to retain certain gestures that allow for the inscription of subjectivity. Bernstein, J. Hegel's Poetics of Action. Berry, Wendell. USA: Shoemaker and Hooard, Bonzo, J. Matthew, and Michael R.

Selected Prose of Robert Frost.

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Eshel, Amir. Fischer, Michael. Fleischacker, Samuel. Hoagland, Tony. Johnston, Kenneth R. Mahan, David C. An Unexpected Light. Eugene, Oregon: Pickwick Publications, Purkis, John. A Preface to Wordsworth. London, England: Longman Group Limited, External laws and codes are, of course, abstract and inexact. They invite interpretation by judges, exceptions, addendums, and sunset clauses. Should I desire anything that I do not currently have? Does marketing and advertising invite us to break this commandment?

Specifically, poetry can imaginatively interpret our values, connecting them to some of the myriad of specific situations where the values apply. That is, poetry can defamiliarize us with the abstract precept of the law and, by the same token, refamiliarize us with the real, the desirable moral imperative in a situation. Poetry can help people love good laws and values. Thus far, the Romantics brought us, even to the point of replacing religion with poetry, as Matthew Arnold proposed.

However, is this switch legitimate?

Gaston Bachelard’s Philosophy of Imagination: An Introduction

Can poetry bring us to love and follow the good we need to do in order to have a more perfect society? Can it give specificity and persuasive power to the laws and ethical principles that we continually throw up as straw barricades against anarchy? Can poetry save us?

In this view, effective poetry would only show us more clearly our depravity and our need of supernatural help. It does so by drawing on the thought of Immanuel Kant and the literary critics who followed his lead and by focusing on that tradition with the theological lens of Pauline depravity. He tried to delineate the knowable from the unknowable, and he jettisoned most of the unknowable, including divine revelation, because he thought unprovable superstition an unfit foundation for a free and rational society.

However, he did acknowledge the necessity of certain unprovable truths and values like freedom , and he promoted art, including poetry, as a way of embodying those values in cultural objects and artifacts. He believed that certain moral principles are necessary as foundational assumptions, but if they remain abstractions, they have no human face and no real pull on the society. Poetry, then, becomes an ideal vehicle for giving those abstract values some concrete, particular expressions, in a physical, memorable text that can be shared emotionally and physically by a number of people.

In this way, key social values are continually rearticulated in their communities, and this rearticulation is to be done in every generation by the poet-prophets. This vein of thought was then picked up by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and to some extent, Wordsworth, who self-consciously set about to apply a new kind of poetry as a solution to the poetic and societal problems they perceived around them.

It was Coleridge, especially, who proposed Romantic poetry as a way to put religion on a new foundation, according to E. Shaffer Whereas before, in the polemics between enlightenment atheists and rationalist Christian apologists, the fight was over the rationality and factuality of Christian doctrine, Coleridge now sought to defend Christianity by setting it within a Kantian view of the benefits of literature. That is, Coleridge, along with other artists and thinkers of his time, rejected the early Enlightenment denigration of the primitive and the mythical, and rejected with it the linear progression from superstition to rationality that formed the basis for Enlightenment programs and certainties—brought to their infamous culmination in the French Revolutions of Coleridge believed that though the Bible was probably not true, its literary value does give powerful particular detail to some of the ethical principles that needed to be maintained and furthered in his society.

To this end, Coleridge and Wordsworth sought to write poetry that created the quasi-religious experience of unity between person and person, between person and nature, and between the different warring aspects inside each person. The Romantics believed that individual and societal salvation involves the move towards harmonization of differences within and between us. The individual, rational self is understood as a complex of desires and roles which is a microcosm of the desires and roles pitted against one another in society. Poetry enables us, through the use of the imagination, to catch glimpses of internal harmony and societal harmony.

They say that through those sublime glimpses, we can be empowered to actualize that harmony.