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  • Emanuele Costa

Samuel Taylor Coleridge between Spinoza and Leibniz

One of my newest research projects is concerned with following the intellectual evolution of one radically underrated figure in philosophy, Samuel T. Coleridge. Few intellectuals of the Early Modern period were more attuned with the zeitgeist of the era than Coleridge. A polyhedric writer, activist, and thinker, Coleridge engaged with many of the most famous figures of the seventeenth and eighteenth century, including Spinoza and Leibniz.

Despite the traditional narrative dubbing Coleridge as the founder of English Romanticism (a movement that has been erroneously linked in the vulgata with the rejection of reason), the English poet had been fascinated by Spinoza since an early age. He saw Spinoza as the epitome of the pantheism he and his fellow countrymen were re-elaborating through poetry and utopian politics. He planned to write eulogies for the Dutch philosopher and to attempt an adaptation of his philosophy into a more human-centric paradigm that could satisfy the pushes towards individualism that were emerging in Britain at the time.

His preference for Spinoza came to a halt at some point in the 1810s, when he became increasingly uncomfortable with the doctrine of pantheism and attempted to turn towards a more theistic conception of providence. In my project, I plan to retrace this evolution of Coleridge’s thought and explain how he found in Leibniz’s theodicy the best doctrine to suit his intellectual metamorphosis. Follow future announcements to check on the eventual success of this project!

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