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The Specter of Hegel in Coleridge's Biographia Literaria

From: Journal of the History of Ideas
Volume 68, Number 2, April 2007
pp. 279-304 | 10.1353/jhi.2007.0015


Coleridge rarely mentions Hegel in his philosophical writings and seems to have read very little of Hegel's work. Yet I argue that Coleridge's criticisms of Schelling's philosophy—as recorded in letters and marginalia—betray remarkable intellectual affinities with his nearly exact contemporary Hegel, particularly in their shared doubts about Schelling's foundationalist intuitionism. With this background in place, I seek to demonstrate that volume one of Coleridge's Biographia Literaria is a radically self-undermining text: its philosophical argument, far from slavishly recapitulating Schelling's philosophy, remains haunted by a quasi-Hegelian skepticism toward intuition even as it advances intuition as the foundation of its theoretical edifice.