Coleridge's Poems

Political thought

Coleridge was also a profound political thinker. While he began his life as a political radical, and an enthusiast for the French Revolution; over the years Coleridge developed a more conservative view of society, somewhat in the manner of Burke.[55] Although seen as cowardly treachery by the next generation of Romantic poets,[56] Coleridge’s later thought became a fruitful source for the evolving radicalism of J. S. Mill.[57] Mill found three aspects of Coleridge’s thought especially illuminating:

  1. First, there was Coleridge’s insistence on what he called “the Idea” behind an institution – its social function, in later terminology – as opposed to the possible flaws in its actual implementation.[58] Coleridge sought to understand meaning from within a social matrix, not outside it, using an imaginative reconstruction of the past (‘’verstehen’’) or of unfamiliar systems.[59]
  2. Secondly, Coleridge explored the necessary conditions for social stability – what he termed Permanence, as distinct from Progress, in a polity[60] - stressing the importance of a shared public sense of community, and national education.[61]
  3. Coleridge also usefully employed the organic metaphor of natural growth to shed light on the historical development of British history, as exemplified in the common law tradition – working his way thereby towards a sociology of jurisprudence.[62]

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