The Prelude

Childhood and the Philosophical Mind in Wordsworth and Austen. College

“In what sense is a child of that age a philosopher?” - Coleridge

If philosophy is defined as ‘advanced knowledge or learning’, it can be argued that age is not central to this definition, but the idiosyncratic experiences that are felt by each individual. Throughout both Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility and William Wordsworth’s Two Part Prelude, young protagonists encounter experiences that force maturity in mind, even if not in physical form. Therefore, for some, it may be possible to reach this level of philosophy that Coleridge seems to imply is only possible in adulthood. Arguably, as a child, you feel the simplest version of any emotion; this can be seen also as the rawest form of feeling, a truth associated with philosophy. In a society that advocates, in line with Coleridge, that authority stems only from the mature, this argument is interesting to consider. It explores both physical and mental experience through an adolescence perspective, alluding to the Romantic ideal of entering realms of human understanding that were originally not encountered: in other words, searching for a philosopher in a form where no-one would previously think to look.

In pursuit of this definition of ‘advanced knowledge’, this can...

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