By Stephen Bygrave
Contains tough new readings of Coleridge's significant works.
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Extra info for Coleridge and the Self: Romantic Egotism
II The 'I' then is the most necessary of fictions, the site of the categories or, as he puts it in The Critique ofPure Reason, the 'vehicle of all concepts', 12 and he therefore admits it to the list of transcendental concepts almost by default. ' 13 In Locke and Hume we saw a denial of the self as substance. The inference that the 'I' which thinks is a substance or soul is one of the 'paralogisms' of which Kant disposes in The Critique of Pure Reason: [The] bare consciousness which accompanies all concepts ...
For Keats, determined characters produce determinate works of art and 'Men of Genius' are only chameleon-like, but Coleridge celebrates Shakespeare and Milton equally as occupying the twin 'glory-smitten summits of the poetic mountain' (BL [CGJ, II, 27). He alludes to the Wordsworthian egotistical sublime in the poem to his friend. Despite the loss of revolutionary hope recorded in the course of The Prelude, Wordsworth can regard the vision, 'Calm and sure I From the dread watchtower of man's absolute self' (PW, I, 405).
Coleridge's 1796 Preface - and essays on egotism by Hazlitt and by Leigh Hunt - call attention to such risk, albeit within a non-technical vocabulary. Neither Locke nor Hume assuages such worries. Nor, finally, does Kant. I believe that it is Hegel who most convincingly deals with the implication that activity implies an agent: the self in Hegel projects ends for itselfin which dualism is rather superseded than continually dissolved. Looking briefly at Coleridge's various definitions of two moral agencies, 'the will' and 'conscience', may help by more than analogy in the problem of defining the analogous activity of the self which he calls 'egotism'.
Coleridge and the Self: Romantic Egotism by Stephen Bygrave