University of Oxford
Critics of Coleridge have long been divided into two basic camps: one that treats him primarily as a poet and literary critic and the other, rather smaller, that treats him primarily as a philosophical and theological thinker. The former typically regards Coleridge’s philosophical writings, which occupied him for most of his last seventeen years, as at best an irrelevance or at worst an unfortunate distraction from his true calling as a poet. The latter, while not denying Coleridge’s poetic achievement, has always had a more challenging task because it has to contend not only with the traditional suspicion, in the anglophone world, of anything smacking of “German metaphysics,” but equally with the self-undermining tendencies manifested in Coleridge’s plagiarisms and unsystematic treatment of philosophical issues. Can Coleridge be claimed as a philosophical writer without special pleading?
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