Coleridge and Scepticism free download ebook
70.⁴² In book 1 of The Advancement of Learning (1605), Francis Bacon claimed that the ‘schoolmen’ had ‘inclined to leave the oracle of God’s word and to vanish in themixture of their own inventions, so in the inquisition of nature they ever left the oracle of God’s works and adored the deceiving and deformed images which the unequalmirror of their own minds or a few received authors did represent unto them’. Discussing Romans 11: 33–6 (‘O the depth of the riches both of his wisdom and the knowledge of God!’), Calvin observes: After having spoken out of the Word and Spirit of the Lord, and overcome at last by the sublimity of so great a mystery, Paul can do nothing but wonderand exclaim that the riches of the wisdom of God are too deep for our reason to be able to penetrate them.
Agent is not interpos’d to alter the course of Nature’.⁷⁶ The ‘gradual’
If the mind be not passive, if it beindeed made in God’s Image, & that too in the sublimest sense—the Image of the Creator —there is ground for suspicion, that any system built on thepassiveness of the mind must be false, as a system.¹⁰³ As in the former letters, Coleridge tends to adumbrate his own uncertain faith in the idea that human reason is made in the image of ¹⁰² Coleridge, letter to John Thelwall, 14 Oct. In this particular form of the design argument the purpose of intention is in the mind of the creator or mechanic, and he transcendsnature.⁸ In the regularity argument or argument from design, the ‘purposes’ which Newton describes do not exist within nature—since matterwas held to be inert and passive by Newton—but instead exist within the mind of God as a kind of blueprint or design.
Opticks (1730 edition), ‘no Demonstration of general Conclusions’.²²
The inductive argument from design that appears in the General Scholium to the Principia, as part of a general encomium to the beauty and harmony of the solar system, seems to collapse this important distinction between the probabilistic and the hypothetical aspectsof the design argument. Newton writes: ‘this most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful being’ (my italics).²³ The proper inferential conclusion of the argument from design ought to be that God probably exists and probably possesses the traditionalattributes of intelligence, power and perhaps even benevolence.²⁴ But ²¹ Rogers, Newton and Religion, 225.
Athenians will be unable to ‘establish any new principles of conduct and behaviour’ leading, perhaps, to a fatal moral agnosticism.⁴⁴
Hume’s next move, in response to Epicurus’ ‘harangue’, is to make the analogical foundation of the argument from design explicit: If you saw, for instance, a half-finished building, surrounded with heaps of brick and stone and mortar, and all the instruments of masonry; could younot infer from the effect, that it was a work of design and contrivance? Epicurus deploys what Gaskin calls the ‘uniquecause objection’ to undermine all but a minimal analogy between our singular experience of the natural world, and our prosaic familiaritywith human artefacts: In works of human art and contrivance, it is allowable to advance from the effect to the cause, and returning back from the cause, to form new inferencesconcerning the effect, and examine the alterations, which it has probably undergone, or may still undergo.
Locke’ who ‘has carried the premise to the natural consequences’.⁶¹
It is an abuse of terms to give it that appelation; and we may as well speak of limited extension without figure, or of numberwithout composition.⁶⁵ By the end of this bitter exchange of views, Philo has engineered a‘family fork’ between mysticism and anthropomorphism as modalities of religious knowledge; if Cleanthes concedes defeat to Demea, thenany concrete knowledge of God is ultimately lost, and with it our capacity for genuine worship. But Kant’s theory presupposed a discontinuity between the sensible and the supersensible worldsand a blunt power play between man and nature which did not suit Coleridge’s 88 Scepticism and Natural ReligionIn his discussion of Kant in chapter 9 of Biographia Litera- ria, Coleridge admitted that ‘An idea, in the highest sense of that word, cannot be conveyed but by a symbol; and, except in geome- try, all symbols of necessity involve an apparent contradiction’.
Wordsworth, Coleridge routinely encountered objects in the natural world that he thought possessed an intrinsic, ‘numinous’ significance.⁵
According to Newton, ‘it is enough that gravity really exists and acts according to the laws that we have set forth and is sufficient toexplain all the motions of the heavenly bodies and of our sea’.²⁹ The natural philosopher, according to Boyle and Newton, should provideprovisional explanations of the behaviour of natural phenomena in terms of the action of immanent physical forces and laws. and where 114 ‘That Uncertain Heaven’, 1795–1805 the formation of the Universe from the accidental play of Atoms acting according to mere mechanical Laws, and derived the astonishing aptitudeand ineffable Beauty of Things from a lucky hit in the Blind Uproar—even as you may easily suppose a vast number of Gold & Brass Particles accidentallycommoved by the Wind would after infinite Trials form themselves into a polished and accurate Watch or Timepiece!
Lectures on Revealed Religion:³⁸
From Himselfhe flies, / Stands in the Sun, and with no partial gaze / Views all Priestley discussing Romans 7: 7, 8, dismisses the notion of inherited original sin: ‘[i]t appears to me that the apostle speaks here only of personal character and conduct, andthe effects of them in producing governing habits; but not at all of any corruption or depravity of the nature of man effected by Adam’s sin, whereby he is become incapableof doing that which is good, or of pleasing God. Just asthe sensual wants of the child are ideally refined into the disinterested benevolence of adulthood, so the selfishness and greed of nations aretranslated into the cosmopolitan virtues of the ‘family’ of mankind, under the providential supervision of God and the moral and physicalorder of the universe.