By Tim Milnes
This formidable learn sheds new mild at the approach the English Romantics handled the fundamental difficulties of data. Kant complained that the failure of philosophy within the eighteenth-century to answer empirical scepticism had produced a tradition of ''indifferentism.'' Tim Milnes explores the stress among this epistemic indifference and a perpetual compulsion to understand. the stress is such a lot essentially glaring within the prose writing of the interval, in works comparable to Wordsworth's Preface to Lyrical Ballads, Hazlitt's Essay at the rules of Human motion, and Coleridge's Biographia Literaria.
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Extra resources for Knowledge and Indifference in English Romantic Prose
This is precisely the observation made by Hume, who (particularly if one considers his inﬂuence upon Kant) becomes a pivotal ﬁgure for any consideration of the agon of knowledge and creation as it evolved through an ailing empirical tradition and into Romanticism. In a sense, Hume takes representative realism to its logical conclusion. This distinction is extended within the realm of ideas itself, where Hume observes that ‘the ideas of the memory are much more lively and strong than those of the imagination’, where ‘the perception is faint and languid [.
Coping with this relationship is a challenge, and one which, struggling between the human and the Humean, the Romantics were the ﬁrst to give a recognizably modern cast. This challenge, moreover, is confronted on two levels, representing in turn two major forms of foundationalism. As Coleridge negotiated a Kantian foundationalism which was a priori and propositional in mould, Wordsworth and Hazlitt, among others, grappled with the causal theory of perception which had formed the basis of British empirical thought throughout the eighteenth century.
Coleridge returned to the image of the stream as a metaphor for knowledge in the ‘Essays on the Principles of Method’ in the Friend. The lesson of this passage, however, is crucially different from that of Wittgenstein’s ‘river-bed’ trope. The moral of the latter’s narrative was that of the need to dispense once and for all with talk of foundations and ‘grounds’ of knowledge, despite the fact that, as Elridge observes, Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations frequently seems Romantic in its fragmentariness, and its self-dramatizing ‘self-revising, self-questioning swerves in and out of doctrine and commitment’.