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Whitehead and German Idealism: A Poetic Heritage

by Antoon Braeckman

Antoon Braeckman is a Research Assistant at the Catholic University of Leuven, Kortrijk Campus, Sahbelaan, Kortrijk, Belgium. The following article appeared in Process Studies, pp. 265-286, Vol. 14, Number 4, Winter, 1985. Process Studies is published quarterly by the Center for Process Studies, 1325 N. College Ave., Claremont, CA 91711. Used by permission. This material was prepared for Religion Online by Ted and Winnie Brock.


In his "Autobiographical Notes" Whitehead remarks about his direct contacts with Hegel: "I have never been able to read Hegel: I initiated my attempt by studying some remarks of his on mathematics which struck me as complete nonsense. It was foolish of me, but I am not writing to explain my good sense."1 It was perhaps the very same passage he had in mind writing in Essays in Science and Philosophy:

You will not be surprised when I confess to you that the amount of philosophy I have not read passes all telling, and that as a matter of fact I have never read a page of Hegel. That is not true. I remember when I was staying with Haldane at Cloan I read one page of Hegel. But it is true that I was influenced by Hegel. I was an intimate friend of McTaggart almost from the first day he came to the University, and saw him for a few minutes almost daily, and I had many a chat with Lord Haldane about his Hegelian point of view, and I have read books about Hegel. But lack of first-hand acquaintance is a very good reason for not endeavoring in print to display any knowledge of Hegel.2

I quoted those two passages at length because they reveal what should be said about Whitehead’s acquaintance with (German) Idealistic thought: Whitehead never had a relevant first-hand contact with German Idealism. Yet, he contends that he was influenced by Hegel. That influence must be interpreted -- as the fragment shows -- as second-hand.3 Whitehead knew Hegel and his philosophy by his conversation with McTaggart and Haldane and his acquaintance with Bradley’s philosophy. Concerning the relationship between Whitehead and Hegel, Victor Lowe’s conclusion seems to me to the point: "Only in his metaphysics -- particularly in his doctrine of coherence -- is a Hegelian influence notable. Had there never been a Hegel, I think Whitehead would still have been led to that by his instinctive acknowledgement that the truth is complex, and that different thinkers have got hold of contrasting aspects of it."4 In other words: Whitehead’s knowledge of Hegel’s philosophy has been completely irrelevant for his philosophy. And Lowe continues: "Some of those who know Whitehead wonder if William Wordsworth did not influence him quite as much as any other man -- and Shelley almost as much as Wordsworth."5 This hypothesis suggests that the direct acquaintance of Whitehead with Wordsworth’s poetry deeply influenced his philosophy. But this is somewhat paradoxical. For Wordsworth’s poetry is, to my opinion, in its very essence the poetical reflection, the poetic rendering of fundamentally idealistic thought. So, if Lowe is right, this would mean that Whitehead had an albeit poetical acquaintance with German Idealistic thought. But then the question is to what extent this acquaintance was relevant to Whitehead’s developing his own system and, furthermore, what could be interpreted afterwards as the ‘Idealistic Remains’ in Whitehead.

Those questions force us to examine more carefully the historical relationship between German idealism, Wordsworth, and Whitehead.

I. Coleridge, Schelling, And Wordsworth

When we want to examine the thought of Wordsworth, we cannot study it as an isolated phenomenon. We need to put it back into the broader context of the epoch. In this respect Whitehead even helps us to reconstruct partly the patterns of relevant relationships between the protagonists of the Romantic period. In Science and the Modern World he states: "In English literature, the deepest thinkers of this [Romantic] school were Coleridge, Wordsworth and Shelley. . . . We may neglect Coleridge’s attempt at an explicit philosophical formulation. It was influential in his own generation; … . For our purpose Coleridge is only important by his influence on Wordsworth."6 When we take the last sentence seriously, before studying Wordworth’s relationship to Whitehead, we have to examine Coleridge’s (philosophical) thought for its influence on Wordsworth.

a. Coleridge as philosopher

Coleridge must have been interested in philosophy since his youth. This is at least what he tells us in his Biographia Literaria.7 He has dealt with Plato, Plotinus, and Jamblicus since the very beginning of his poetical writing and read Locke and Berkeley. About 1794, the English determinist Hartley became for him the most convincing philosopher. In 1799 he wrote his friend R. Southey that he was "sunk in Spinoza,"8 and in the Biographia Literaria one can read that he had studied Giordano Bruno in 1801.9 But all those philosophers were not the most important ones to whom he felt "acquainted." We should add Kant, Schelling, and Schlegel to the list of philosophers mentioned above. The influence of the latter was far greater than that of any other. In order to understand this we have to consider one of its explanatory factors: Coleridge’s journey in Germany (1798-99).

This journey was of great importance for Coleridge’s development. He left for Germany in 1798. At that time he did not know anything about German philosophy.10 As a matter of fact he aimed chiefly at "a grounded knowledge of the German Language and Literature."11 He studied mainly at the University of Gottingen (1799). Although he must have heard much about Kant and Fichte in those days, one can say he never met Kant, nor Fichte. According to Marcel he never met Schelling either, and it still has to be proven that he attended any of their lectures.12 Most critics even agree that during this journey, Coleridge dealt with a diversity of subjects, but never studied philosophy seriously. Yet he bought several books on metaphysics.13 Nevertheless, once he was back in England (1801), his first and still superficial reading of German philosophy was enough to cause him to give up his Hartleyan necessitarianism and to direct himself towards a more careful study of Kant and Schelling.14

Gabriel Marcel argues that Coleridge had been reading the Kantian philosophy starting from 1802. Especially during his stay in Malta (1804-06) he studied Kant quite intensively.15 According to the Biographia Literaria he read Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, the Critique of Judgment, the Metaphysical Elements of Natural Philosophy, and Religion within the Bounds of Pure Reason.16

From Kant, Coleridge may have drawn the distinction between ‘the mechanic’ and ‘the organic’ which underlies the important contrast between ‘fancy’ and ‘imagination’.17 As a matter of fact, Coleridge borrowed, at least to a great extent, the whole theory of the ‘faculties’ of Reason from Kant, especially the theory of the ‘Imagination’ 18 As Marcel notes, there is a very large coincidence between Coleridge’s and Kant’s theory of ‘aesthetics’. Coleridge appreciated most Kant’s Critique of Judgment.19 Almost all Kantian themes which later seemed important to Coleridge had their origin in this very work.

Coleridge also knew Fichte. In the Biographia Literaria he mentions his ‘Wissenschaftslehre’ or, as he calls it, the Lore of Ultimate Science.20 Marcel asserts that Coleridge, besides the ‘Wissenschaftslehre’, read several other works of Fichte: Die Bestimmung des Menschen, Der geschlossene Handelsstaat, Das System der Sittenlehre, and Versuch einer Kritik aller Offenbarung.21

Coleridge summarizes the significance of Fichte as follows: he gave the fatal blow to Spinoza’s system by starting with an act instead of a thing or substance; he supplied the concept of a systematic philosophy or a philosophical system;22 finally he laid the first stone of the dynamic philosophy, by the same way of substituting acts for things in themselves.23 In contrast with his reception of Kant he rejected most of Fichte’s philosophy. He reproaches him for constructing an egotistical, lifeless (i.e., natureless), godless, and immoral philosophy.24 His moral system would be no more than a caricature of Kant’s. 25

In the list of philosophers whom Coleridge was acquainted with, we may not forget the literary critic and philosopher A. W. Schlegel. His Vorlesungen über dramatische Kunst und Literatur were very influential on Coleridge especially in respect to the theory of the genius and in respect to the application of the contrast between organic and mechanic forms in art and art criticism.26 Coleridge’s interest in the writings of Schlegel went so far that he sometimes took over integral parts of it, even textually. Marcel attributes this to the very close similarities in thought between the two critics. J. W. Beach, on the contrary, is less conciliatory, and he bluntly accuses Coleridge of plagiarism. In his article "Coleridge’s Borrowings from the German" he quotes Schlegel in a passage concerning the so-called mechanic and organic forms in works of art, and he shows how the passage in Coleridge follows the German text so closely that one cannot but regard it as a mere translation.27

Last but not least, there is Coleridge’s acquaintance with Schelling. In our examination of the relationship between Coleridge and German Idealism this is by far the most important issue. There is no critic who has not more or less elaborated on the very close relationship between the German philosopher and Coleridge.28

However, before we examine this last element, some words should be said concerning Coleridge’s understanding of the-philosophy of Kant, Fichte, Schlegel, and, provisionally, Schelling. Marcel states that although Coleridge admired Kant very much, he did not understand the critical and profound intuitions of Kant. Marcel illustrates this by a passage of The Friend where Coleridge interprets Kant in such way that the principle of obligation is not Reason but God: in that sense our conscience would be God’s words in ourselves.29 That is in complete contradiction with the core of Kant’s position. The same holds good for the understanding of Fichte’s philosophy. This becomes clear when we reconsider the passage quoted already, where Coleridge interprets Fichte’s transcendental investigation concerning the history of consciousness as a psychological description of the mental state, called reflection. This psychological description, according to Coleridge, emphasizes too much the central position of the Ego. As a result, Fichte’s philosophy becomes immoral, egotistic, godless, and hostile to Nature.30 To understand transcendental philosophy as a psychological description is to understand not a single word of it.31

But the same could be said in respect to Coleridge’s understanding of Schelling. Although he gives the impression of having understood the main intuitions of Schelling’s philosophy of nature and his aesthetics, again, he did not see that all this had been written out of a transcendental, criticistic conceptual framework. This fundamental misconception can easily be illustrated. In the Biographia Literaria Coleridge tries to explicate the first and most basic intuition of his own philosophy, following thereby completely the strain of thought of Fichte’s ‘Wissenschaftslehre’ and Schelling’s Vom Ich als Prinzip der Philosophie oder über das Unbedingte im menschlichen Wissen. "This principle, so characterized, manifests itself in the SUM or I AM." In the ‘Scholium’, he continues: "If a man be asked how he knows that he is? he can only answer, sum quia sum. But if . . . he be again asked . . . he might reply, sum quia Deus est, or still more philosophically, sum quia in Deo sum."32 This last phrase is complete nonsense for a transcendental philosopher of the Fichtean or younger Schellingian type, because to their mind it is impossible to think of a God or the Absolute as an objective existing instance in and through which the I exists. This is a pure dogmatic position, which Schelling never would claim.

All this shows quite well how Coleridge understood German Idealism. He read many books without noticing that they were written from a criticistic point of view: he never grasped the transcendental meaning of the philosophical analyses. He understood the phrases as propositions concerning the actual world and not as statements about the necessary conditions for the understanding of what actually exists.

On the other hand Coleridge could easily think he understood Schelling’s philosophy of nature and his philosophy of art. For in those parts of his philosophy, Schelling de facto gave a lot of descriptions of the actual world, and his transcendental analyses could be understood in a realistic (i.e., dogmatic) way, without loss of meaning. But even in respect to those parts of Schelling’s philosophy one could say that Coleridge understood the phrases without grasping their underlying but truly intended meaning.

b. Schelling

I would like to make clear (1) that there was an important influence from Schelling on Coleridge; (2) that Schelling’s influence was a crucial if not determinant factor for the development of the final stage of Coleridge’s theoretical and poetical thought; and (3) that every type of influence that Coleridge might have had upon others (Wordsworth, and even Whitehead, for instance), bears the mark of Schelling’s system of philosophy. In order to show this we concentrate first on the actuality of the influence and secondly on its extent.

That there was a significant influence of Schelling on Coleridge can be deduced in the first place from the explicit quotations in Coleridge’s work. Furthermore, this influence has been generally acknowledged by most of the Coleridge scholars. The most significant utterances concerning Schelling are to be found in the Biographia Literaria. "God forbid! That I should be suspected of a wish to enter into a rivalry with Schelling for the honors so unequivocally his right, not only as a great and original genius, but as the founder of the PHILOSOPHY OF NATURE, and as the most successful improver of the Dynamic System . . . ; to SCHELLING we owe the completion, and the most important victories, of this revolution in philosophy."33

Coleridge was obviously acquainted with Schelling’s philosophy, and he even appreciated him for his completion of the Kantian philosophy in respect to the philosophy of nature. He even read Schelling’s most important works before 1817, the year the Biographia Literaria was published: "I have not indeed . . . been hitherto able to procure more than two of his books, viz, the 1st volume of his collected Tracts, and his System of Transcendental Idealism; to which, however, I must add a small pamphlet against Fichte."34

Thus Coleridge, by the time of writing the Biographia Literaria, was above all acquainted with Schelling’s transcendental philosophy, his ‘Freiheitsschrift’ and the important work on art criticism Ueber das Verhältnis der bildenden Künste zur Natur.

To evaluate the extent of Schelling’s influence on Coleridge, I think that the whole discussion concerning Coleridge’s plagiarism from Schelling could be instinctive. That discussion, well-known in circles of literary critics, but still too unknown among philosophers, is age-old. In case of plagiarism there are only two possible explanations: either Coleridge plagiarized because he attached great importance to Schelling’s way of saying things, which means that he was convinced that Schelling’s expressions were most useful to formulate his own ideas (this would mean finally that the correlation between Schelling’s and Coleridge’s thought is very large), or Coleridge plagiarized Schelling in order to give himself a philosophical aureole in the eyes of his countrymen. But if so, ‘Coleridge’, as we know him, is a mere fiction. Then the name ‘Coleridge’ only stands for ‘the person who transmitted and translated the writings of F. W. J. Schelling (and probably other German authors)’.

The history of the problem concerning Coleridge’s plagiarism of Schelling starts in March, 1840, six years after Coleridge’s death. An article of Ferrier in the Blackwood Magazine accused Coleridge of plagiarism.35

Yet it is important to notice that Coleridge, although he never knew of the accusation of plagiarism, defended himself in advance against any charge in this respect.

In the Biographia Literaria he anticipates by two main arguments the later charge: "In Schelling’s ‘NATUR-PHILOSOPHY’ and the ‘SYSTEM DES TRANSCENDENTALEN IDEALISMUS’, I first found a genial coincidence with much that I had toiled out for myself. . . . It would be but a mere act of justice to myself, were I to warn my future readers, that an identity of thought, or even similarity of phrase, will not be at all times a certain proof that the passage has been borrowed from Schelling. Nor is this coincidence at all to be wondered at. We had studied in the same school; namely, the writings of Kant."36 And he continues: "For readers in general, let whatever shall be found in this or any future work of mine, that resembles, or coincides with, the doctrines of my German predecessor, though contemporary, be wholly attributed to him: provided, that the absence of distinct references to his books, which I could not at all times make with truth as designating citations or thoughts actually derived from him; and which, I trust, would, after this general acknowledgement be superfluous; be not charged on me as an ungenerous concealment or intentional plagiarism."37 This last quotation makes it completely impossible to decide what passage or which idea is his own and if not, to what extent it has been copied, or borrowed from someone else.

Schelling knew about the charge of plagiarism against Coleridge. In 1842, Schelling mentions the whole problem, although in a very conciliatory manner towards Coleridge: "I grant him with pleasure the borrowings from my works that were sharply, even too sharply criticized by his countrymen due to the fact that my name has not been mentioned. One should not hold such charges against a really congenial man."38

It is remarkable that Schelling was not inclined to stress this point, because of Coleridge’s important role in transmitting ‘accurately’ the German science and poetry into England.

The "accuracy" with which Coleridge transmitted those ideas could be best illustrated by referring to Marcel’s dissertation (1909, published in 1971): he quotes in annex several rather extensive passages from the Biographia Literaria that are mere translations from Schelling’s System des transcendentalen Idealismus and Abhandlungen zur Erläuterung der Wissenschaftslehre.39

The whole problem of Coleridge’s plagiarism, it seems, is summarized best in Wellek’s A History of Modern Criticism (II) (1955): "If we look at Coleridge... fresh from our reading of Kant, Schiller, Schelling, the Schlegels, . . . we must, I think, come to a considerably lower estimate of his significance, however great and useful his role was in mediating between Germany and England. . . . It seems to me a matter of intellectual honesty not to credit Coleridge with ideas distinctly derived and even literally transcribed from others."40 In this way Wellek affirms on the one hand Coleridge’s plagiarism, and on the other hand he defines Coleridge’s final significance for the history of culture: the one who mediated in a fertile way between the cultural movement of the romantic epoch between Germany and England. In this sense Wellek’s evaluation of Coleridge’s plagiarism is very much the same as the one Schelling gave.

Far more important though, he stipulates the areas to which the borrowings and thus the influences of German authors belong. It is important in this respect to notice that the areas of influence Wellek notes are corresponding closely with those we found in Marcel. In general they both assert that in respect to (1) Coleridge’s aesthetics, especially the relationship between nature and art,41 (2) his philosophy of nature,42 and (3) his theory concerning the relationship between subjectivity and objectivity and the way to overcome this duality,43 the influence of Schelling is obvious. Wellek adds that also the theory of literature and the complete so-called philosophical terminology has been borrowed from Schelling.44 Marcel shows that Coleridge’s stress on the concepts of life and mind as active factors whereby any dualism can be surmounted is in essence Schellingian thought.45 The same goes for any attempt Coleridge made to systematize his thinking: even there one can easily find the Schelling mind at work.46

c. Wordsworth

Almost every Coleridge or Wordsworth critic agrees on the issue of Coleridge’s influence on Wordsworth. Even Whitehead points this out in Science and the Modern World47 and so does Charles Hartshome.48 Furthermore, if Coleridge was a necessary and fertile mediator between German Idealism and English poetry, we will find many ideas in Wordsworth that can be traced back to Coleridge’s principal sources in German Idealism, namely to Kant and still more to the philosophy of Schelling.

The most interesting examination of the relationship between Coleridge and Wordsworth can be found in Rader.49

Rader tries to systematize the areas of thought in Wordsworth which exhibit the more or less obvious influence of Coleridge.50 Summarizing Rader’s investigations, we can distinguish four topics concerning this relationship. In the first place, there is their joined critique on Hartleyan associationism and necessitarianism.51 This critique goes back to Coleridge’s emancipation from Hartley’s philosophy during his stay in Germany and his examination of German Philosophy afterwards, above all of Kantian philosophy. Secondly, from Kant, Wordsworth borrowed, mediated by his personal contacts with Coleridge, the concept of duty in ethics, and of reason and truth in epistemology and metaphysics.52

However, thirdly, the influence of Coleridge is most obvious in respect to the stress on ‘free will’ and above all in respect to his concept of ‘Imagination’.53 Here of course, one can see the influence of Kant. Yet, I am convinced that both concepts never would have been of such great importance to Coleridge if he had not seen how fertilely they were used in Schelling’s works. Indeed, it was Schelling in the first place who saw the remarkable importance of the concept of ‘Imagination’ (‘Einbildungskraft’) to found (a) the autonomy of the subjectivity, (b) the autonomy and autarky of nature, and (c) the production of art as the cultural counterpart of the basic activity of nature. This concept of the imagination, derived from Kant on the one hand, connected with another most fertile notion of the Critique of Judgment, the organism, becomes the cornerstone of Schelling’s philosophy of nature as a philosophy of organism. On the other hand, it provides the basic structure for the understanding of art in his philosophy of art. Without explaining this here, but referring to what we will say about it in section III, we can state formally that the concept of imagination in Schelling makes it possible, as Hablützel rightly assumes, to understand Nature as Natura Naturans, to understand man as an autonomous and reasonable free subject, to overcome the old problem of the dualism between subjectivity and objectivity, and finally to understand along this line the production in nature and the production in art as two analogous processes which are founded on the same principles.54 In this very concept we meet the philosophy of Kant, Schelling, Coleridge’s thought, and especially his theory of literary criticism, and finally Wordsworth’s view on the relationship between Man and Nature.

All this is confirmed by Rader, who concludes -- and this is our fourth point -- that Coleridge’s influence on Wordsworth was most important concerning the concept of nature, which is founded upon and exhibits the structures and features of the (concept of) imagination.55 This concept allows Wordsworth to think the organicity of Nature, which finally and metaphysically means: to think of the one as many and the many as one.56 It need not even be said that such a concept of nature has its own repercussions on Wordsworth’s concept of God. This concept, Rader argues, evolves, under Coleridge’s influence, from a plain pantheism towards an immanent theism.57 Whether this latter assertion is true or not we need not discuss here. However, we know that (1) also in Schelling and in Coleridge, an analogous evolution has taken place concerning their concept of God 58 and (2) in Schelling this was due to his more careful examination of the ontological implications of the transcendental condition of possibility of the concept of Being, which he always conceived as structured according to the patterns of Imagination.

Therefore, we are inclined to conclude that the coincidence between Coleridge and Wordsworth concerning their theory of the relationship between subjectivity and objectivity, between nature and art, and finally concerning the concept of nature itself are based upon the notion of imagination, framed by Kant, but generalized, elaborated, and made fertile in a variety of ways by Schelling.

If all this is true, there must be a possibility to compare Wordsworth’s poetry, and more especially, the underlying philosophical intuitions with the system of Schelling.

In his authoritative book, E. D. Hirsch made this comparison at length.59 It is remarkable, indeed, to notice Hirsch’s renderings of Wordsworth’s basic philosophical intuitions: the identity of subjectivity and objectivity,60 the organic view on nature,61 the pantheistic or immanent theistic concept of God in his relation to the world,62 the idea of the analogy between the creativity in nature and the creativity in art,63 the stress on ethics and aesthetics,64 etc. The most significant point, however, is that Hirsch stresses, as did Rader in respect to Coleridge and Wordsworth, the importance of the generalized concept of imagination as the cornerstone of the philosophical framework in Wordsworth and in Schelling.65 For it is the structure of the imagination which makes it intelligible that nature is a creative process towards the human mind which is therefore a creative instance too both in respect to theoretical knowledge as in respect to practical realizations, whether these have an ethical or aesthetical character. Finally, that same structure of the imagination makes is plausible to conceive the relationship between the world, both nature and mind, and its ground, i.e., God. Hirsch remarks very definitely that Schelling’s writings on this theme, expressed by his metaphysics of the ‘Bond’ or the ‘Copula’, is directly derivative of the structure of imagination and is very close to Wordsworth’s view on the relationship between God and the world.66

I quote in this respect one of the most striking passages in which Schelling defines very accurately his concept of the ‘Copula’ and in which he expresses at the same time one of Wordsworth’s most fundamental ideas concerning the ultimate structure of reality: "The bond is the living unification of the one and the many. And, along with the bond, there is also that which has, out of the unity and multiplicity, become one."67

But is this not surprisingly similar to Whitehead’s description of the category of the ultimate, i.e., creativity? In Process and Reality Whitehead writes: "[Creativity is the activity whereby] the many become one, and are increased by one" (PR 21/ 32).

This would mean that the Kantian notion of imagination in its very structure is quite similar to what is envisaged in Whitehead’s creativity. But this of course has yet to be proven.

The examination of the influence of English poetry on Whitehead constitutes the final step in our historical approach of the relationship between German Idealism and Whitehead.

II. The Influence On Whitehead

In the "Autobiographical Notes," Whitehead asserts that he was acquainted with Wordsworth before he arrived at the university in 1880. In secondary school he read Wordsworth and Shelley during spare time.68 This acquaintance with Wordsworth, Shelley, and Coleridge becomes apparent through a consideration of the different passages in which they are mentioned. In Principles of Natural Knowledge he cites some lines from Wordsworth (PNK 200); in Process and Reality he quotes Wordsworth’s well-known phrase: "We murder to dissect" (PR 140/212). In Modes of Thought he suggests that he read Coleridge’s Biographia Literaria.69 But the most important rendering of the romantic poetry we find in Science and the Modern World.70 Let us therefore confine our investigation to the latter text, in order to see clearly Whitehead’s view on romantic poetry.

At the end of Chapter V, "The Romantic Reaction," Whitehead summarizes the significance of Romantic poetry: "I have endeavored to make clear . . . that the nature-poetry of the romantic revival was a protest on behalf of the organic view of nature, and also a protest against the exclusion of value from the essence of matter of fact."71 Here, Whitehead stresses the importance of the romantic concept of nature. That concept entails, according to the above quotation, two characteristics: (a) the organic view on nature and (b) the understanding of nature as exhibiting an intrinsic value-character.

Whitehead elucidates the former aspect as a (romantic) reaction against the mechanical, 18th-century scientific view on nature, whereby nature is reduced to mere abstract matter, devoid of any form of subjectivity. As to the latter aspect, Whitehead argues that the English romantic poetry "bears witness that nature cannot be divorced from its aesthetic values."72 This means to Whitehead that nature, in the first place, has to do with experience, but above all with the experience of value. Both aspects of the concept of nature in romantic poetry exhibit two dimensions of one and the same intuition namely, that of the fundamentally subjective character of nature. This subjective character has to be understood as the ever-acting ground, involved in any particular instance of nature:

To every Form of being is assigned…

An active Principle: "howe’er removed
From sense and observation, it subsists
In all things, in all natures; in the stars
Of azure heaven, the unenduring clouds,
In flower and tree, in every pebbly stone
That paves the brooks, the stationary rocks,
The moving waters, and the invisible air.

from link to link

It circulates, the Soul of all the worlds."73

Whitehead’s comment on English poetry in general, and his evaluation of the Wordsworthian poetry more specifically, shows that the most valuable contribution of that poetry consists exactly in this articulation of the concept of nature. This statement can be sustained through a closer study of the similarity in concept, principles, and elaboration of Wordsworth’s and Whitehead’s view on nature.

In Wordsworth we can find the stress on the organic pattern of nature. Moreover, while interpreting its value character, we are impelled to look at nature as an agent to be qualified as subjective. Finally, the concept of an ever-acting ground which is involved in and finds expression through all particular instances of nature allows us to envisage here in nuce Whitehead’s own principle of creativity. Hence, we can conclude that if there has been an influence of Wordsworth on Whitehead at all, it will have to do with his concept of nature. I would even claim -- but this has to be investigated later on -- that the particular synthesis of the concept of nature with aesthetics in Whitehead is almost completely Wordsworthian.

Of course, I will not go so far as to say that Whitehead borrowed his concept of nature from Wordsworth, or from any other English poet of the 19th century. I would claim that his own view was strongly corroborated by his reading of romantic poetry: it gave him the insights to fulfill his imaginative generalization -- as he understood his own method of philosophy -- successfully. The testimony of Whitehead’s daughter bears witness of the importance of Wordsworth for Whitehead: "He would read The Prelude, as if it were the Bible, pouring over the meaning of various passages.

Besides Whitehead’s own quotations most of his interpreters indicate that there has been a more or less important influence of Wordsworth and Coleridge on some central thoughts in Whitehead’s philosophy of organism. The evidence of this influence is so obviously recognized by those interpreters that it can hardly be overlooked. Especially Charles Hartshorne and Victor Lowe, and above all Mary Wyman stress this point. Talking about himself and about Whitehead, Hartshorne asserts: "I may have learned more metaphysically from Emerson’s Essays . . . and Wordsworth’s and Shelley’s metaphysical poetry (from which Whitehead also profited) than by reading and hearing Whitehead."75 And Lowe states: "Some of those who know Whitehead wonder if William Wordsworth did not influence him quite as much as any other man -- and Shelley almost as much as Wordsworth There is in Whitehead a touch of Bergson, a touch of James, a touch of Samual Alexander, more of Wordsworth and Shelley."76

Mary Wyman, however, not only states the actuality of the influence, she also tries to investigate to what extent and above all in what areas the influence should be localized in Whitehead’s work. Apparently in agreement to what we have said above, Wyman sees Wordsworth’s influence on Whitehead in the first place in his concept of Creativity. "The idea of Creativity then underlying Wordsworth’s autobiographical poem The Prelude would seem to be the main reason for its attraction to Whitehead"77And the relationship between Whitehead’s concept of Creativity and the content of The Prelude should be interpreted in the way that "Whitehead’s theory of the creative process is akin to aesthetic theory and this suggests Wordsworth in his preoccupation with the poetic process of creaton."78 The poetic process of creation is the central theme of Wordsworth’s Prelude: "the growth of the poet’s mind." This growth of the poet’s mind ends with the ‘Imagination’ as its last and most fundamental creative power.

As a result of the preceding, short analysis of the connection of Coleridge’s and Wordsworth’s thoughts with Whitehead’s philosophy, we may conclude (1) that there was a relatively important influence from Coleridge and Wordsworth on Whitehead; (2) that this influence deals with the relationship between nature and aesthetics, kept together in Coleridge and Wordsworth by the concept of the poetic process of creation, i.e., the concept of imagination, and brought together in Whitehead by the theory of creativity. The most important issue, however, now seems to be the suggested, but still vague, relationship between ‘Imagination’ and ‘Creativity’. This investigation will be carried out at length in the third section.

As the final outcome of the foregoing examination, four elements should be stressed.

1. The first philosopher who treated nature and art (aesthetics) starting from the principle of Imagination was Kant. According to Kant, Imagination is the ultimate foundation of the knowledge of nature and of art production. But, it should be said that Kant’s concept of nature, art, and imagination has to be understood from his transcendental point of view.

The Kantian subjective idealism is at first criticized by Schelling. He did not see nature or art merely as the final outcome of the activity of the subjective spirit. Indeed, according to Schelling, nature has a productive activity of its own (ontologically) which culminates in the production of human consciousness. The structure and the principles of that activity become manifest in the human spirit, more especially in his faculty of Imagination. Imagination is therefore not only a faculty of the human mind, but rather the most fundamental type of activity exhibited in and by nature itself. Furthermore, Schelling went on to claim his philosophy to be merely ‘idealistic’. This means that he did not want to give up the Kantian transcendental method of thinking. Whereas Kant wondered what we should take into account in order to explain our experience and our knowledge of the world, Schelling’s question was what we should take into consideration when explaining how nature produces objects (including man) which we experience and understand. Therefore it should be stressed that in Schelling we have an objective idealism on a transcendental basis.

2. It is important to notice that, as we stated above, Coleridge was in no way an objective idealist and that, in adopting Schelling’s system, he changed the very principles of it, which he did, to my mind completely unconsciously. Coleridge never grasped the meaning and the significance of the transcendental method, i.e., of the Copernican Revolution. Coleridge interpreted Schelling’s concept of nature, his concept of art and of Imagination in a dogmatic sense. Schelling would have called Coleridge an objective realist.79

3. Nevertheless, it was that so-called objective-realistic rendering of Schelling’s philosophy by Coleridge that influenced Wordsworth’s poetry. As to the concept of nature, of art, and of Imagination, we have shown above to what extent Wordsworth’s insights were developed under the guiding influence of Coleridge. As a matter of fact, in Wordsworth we can find back precisely the Schellingian-Coleridgean structural position and conceptual elaboration of Imagination: it is the faculty in the human mind and the faculty in nature whereby art and nature, in their productive aspect, can be thought together.

4. It was the poetic elaboration, translation, and application by Wordsworth of those -- in principle -- Schellingian insights that struck Whitehead so much. He was impressed by the creative aspect of the Imagination that had been stressed by Wordsworth. In this respect it is indeed significant that Whitehead read Coleridge’s Biographia Literaria, which deals in so many places with that view on Imagination.80 Therefore, I am inclined to see the Wordsworthian and Coleridgean interpretations of Imagination as one of the main sources Whitehead used to conceive the structure of the ultimate ground of all reality, i.e., Creativity.

However, this bold hypothesis concerning the relationship between Schelling’s concept of Imagination and Whitehead’s concept of Creativity needs more elaboration and clarification.

III. Imagination and Creativity: Schelling and Whitehead on Nature

When one compares Whitehead’s cosmology and Schelling’s writing on the philosophy of nature, it is remarkable that both philosophers conceive visible nature as an abstraction of its more basic dynamic structure, which is explained by recurrence to atomic processes of becoming, respectively called ‘actual entities’ and ‘Aktionen81 In this respect, Schelling calls his own philosophy of nature a ‘dynamic atomism’, a term which corresponds well with Whitehead’s view.82 But there is more: both philosophers state that the activity of the particular processes of becoming is grounded in and therefore is a manifestation of the more fundamental ‘substantial activity’.83 In Whitehead this is called ‘Creativity’; Schelling speaks in this respect of ‘Absolute Nature’, ‘Natura Naturans’, ‘The Bond’, ‘The Copula’, ‘The Soul (of the World)’, etc.84

The aim of this last section now is, first, to show that the (abstract) structure of Whitehead’s Creativity and Schelling’s Absolute Nature is identical and can be conceived as the structure of ‘Imagination’. Secondly, I would like to treat three more concepts implied by that structure which are also shared by the two philosophers: (in Whitehead’s terms) (1) the Revised Subjectivist Principle, (2) the idea of the Creative Advance, and (3) the concept of a Philosophy of Organism.

a. The Imaginative Structure of Creativity

Kant states that the (pure transcendental) imagination is the condition of possibility of all experience, i.e., of the capacity of synthesizing a multiplicity in the unity of knowledge.85 In 1802 Schelling writes that Imagination is the root of all reality.86 The two statements beg the question of the formal structure of Imagination and of its more general application in respect to the understanding of reality as such.

Formally, imagination can be defined as an activity whereby two factors are synthesized into a third issue. In Kant these factors are the sense-data and the categories: they issue in the object of empirical knowledge.87 The active unification of objective and subjective factors constitutes a finite product. As Schelling understands those objective and subjective factors as functions of what should be defined as (subjective) activities in themselves, (productive) imagination can generally be described as the active unification of two different activities issuing in a finite product. Furthermore, Schelling states that the two types of activity are opposed to each other, but infinite in themselves: for he qualifies both respectively as the absolutely ideal and as the absolutely real activity. In this way imagination can be understood as the activity whereby the infinite is unified into the finite, or as the act through which the many become one.88 Imagination thus is a synthesizing activity which brings about finite products. Each finite product, therefore, is a ‘con-cretum’ 89

In Whitehead Creativity can be defined in the very same way. It is activity synthesizing the data of the actual (the antecedent actual entities) and conceptual (the realm of the eternal objects) world into the unity of a concrete, new actual entity. It is even possible to understand both the actual and conceptual world as functions of experience in so far as they are actively prehended by that very actual entity. In this sense both the actual and conceptual world are functions of the physical and conceptual prehensions of the becoming occasion.90

This formal concept of Creativity or Imagination can now be applied to the basic structure of nature. This results in three main ideas.

(a) Nature is understood as a creative activity. Nature, conceived in this way, is creation itself and not a mere result of it.91 Furthermore, as the creative activity produces finite instances, it can be regarded as the principle of individuation.92 Finally, as it is the most fundamental activity, it constitutes at the same time the ground of all creative activity, be it physical or mental. In this sense the imaginative art production in its very essence can be understood as identical with the fundamental creative activity in nature, manifesting itself, though, on its highest level.93

(b) On the other hand it is clear that this activity does not exist apart from its products.94 Therefore, one had better call it the principle of individuation. Although, as a principle it ensures the essential identity of all its finite issues: each entity is identical so far as it originates from the same ground.

(c) With the concept of a natural imaginative activity the Universe can be thought of as a relational whole: it constitutes identity in totality 95 -- because, as a synthetic activity, resulting in finite instances, it links together subject and object, the mental and the physical, the organic and the inorganic. This is the ultimate reason why Schelling defines this activity as the ‘Copula’, the ‘Bond’.96

So far, it is obvious that the formal and substantial aspects of Schelling’s generalized concept of Imagination fit perfectly with the concept of Creativity in Whitehead. It can be argued namely that Whitehead’s Creativity is indeed the creative principle of individuation.97 The latter does not exist apart from its products (PR 225/ 344), but at the same time it ensures the relationality of the Universe as a whole and of its constituents, synthesizing in every instance elements of the conceptual and actual world (PR 22/ 33f.).

b. The Philosophy of Organism and Its Principles

Finally, I would like to make clear that this structure of Creativity and Imagination implies another three ideas which are once more shared by Schelling and Whitehead. I denominate them in Whitehead’s terms.

(a) The ‘Revised Subjectivist Principle’ -- Both Imagination and Creativity express the same basic activity of Mind: the active unification of subjectivity and objectivity. To say that this unification is the ultimate activity is to say that the structure of Mind is the final essence of reality. This idea is expressed in a quite different way in Schelling and Whitehead.

In Schelling, the paradigm of this basic structure is given by the self-conscious Ego,98 whereas Whitehead’s paradigm is an unconscious experience. Although Whitehead’s claim for a ‘Revised Subjectivist Principle’ finds its origin in this very difference, things should be understood properly (PR 159-62/ 241-46). Schelling merely wants to express that in the understanding of ourselves as self-conscious instances, we become aware of the (dynamic) unity of subjectivity and objectivity that can generally be ascribed to reality as a whole and to its constituent parts. This structure in its dynamism is the imaginative activity, whereas in its static result it is the immediate unity of subjectivity in a finite (conscious or unconscious) instance of reality. In Schelling’s terms: "So it becomes manifest that nature is originally identical with that which in ourselves is understood as intelligent and conscious" (stress added).99 In this sense: "Everything is = the Ego, and there is nothing that exists which is not = the Ego."100

Furthermore, the claim for a ‘Revised Subjectivist Principle’ in Whitehead and Schelling finds its source in their common attempt to overcome the so-called ‘bifurcation of nature’. That principle enables them to consider the system of nature as identical with the system of Mind, or to state that nature is the visible Mind, and Mind, the invisible Nature.101 Here we meet again the common interest of the ‘Romantic reaction’ of Wordsworth, Coleridge, Schelling, and Whitehead in their struggle against any mechanistic interpretation of nature.

Dynamically speaking, the ‘Revised Subjectivist Principle’ makes clear that all subjects are resulting of objects, and that all subjectivity issues in objectivity. In other words, in this sense the human mind is considered as the final result of the activity in Nature, which in its very essence exhibits the structure of Mind.

(b) The Creative Advance -- If it is true that Schelling and Whitehead intend to understand the human mind out of its natural origins, then both will have to think of nature as an agency which, by developing itself, constitutes an evolution toward ever more complex instances, i.e., towards human consciousness in the end. This is apparently so in Whitehead: it can be illustrated by the development of his Theory of Prehensions (part III of PR). There he shows how, by the dialectical process of continually synthesizing new complexes of conceptual and physical data, consciousness is produced. But the same holds good for Schelling. In this respect he talks about the history of consciousness, which can either be described as regressive, starting with the Ego (this is the aim of the transcendental philosophy), or as progressive, starting with the ultimate natural processes (this is the aim of the philosophy of nature).102

In respect to the evolutionary aspect of his thinking, Schelling even argues that the universe is still evolving by the dialectical intercourse of the two basic forces (the expanding and contracting, the positive and the negative, the real and ideal), which is the result of an original cosmic explosion that has set the forces free.103

As the imaginative-creative activity is responsible for the dynamic production of evermore complex types of entities, Creativity (and Imagination) is also the principle of genuine novelty. No one will discuss this in Whitehead: he defines Creativity as the principle of novelty (PR 21131). Yet, it should be stressed that this novelty can only exist on the background of an actual system (PR 339/ 515) and, furthermore, that the amount of eternal objects in respect to the particular spatiotemporal setting of the actual world is definitely limited. Thus novelty is limited, not only by the definiteness of the actual world, but also by the definiteness of the new possibilities available for the near and remote future of that world (PR 65/ 101).

Concerning Schelling’s Imagination as the principle of novelty, things are not so clear. For German Idealism is commonly understood as the philosophical school that conceives any evolution or historical process as governed by a rigid necessity, excluding thereby the possibility of genuine novelty. Although lam convinced that the issue is far more complex, I will not discuss this here at length. I will simply point out some fragments in which Schelling definitely describes nature as governed by a teleological principle: the principle of balance (‘Gleichgewicht’).104 The idea is that originally the universe was an absolute identity, which has been destroyed by the original explosion. As a result, two main forces came free and started to act upon each other in order to find back the original identity. In that way the setting of the forces is placed in an everlasting striving towards, i.e., in search for balance. Each time they realize a position of balance, a finite product is brought about. But as no finite product is able to restore the absolute identity once and for all, the position of balance collapses and the movement toward absolute unity goes on.

Of course, all this does not prove that there is a possibility of genuine novelty according to Schelling; it only suggests that on that point there is more Aristotelian teleology than Spinozistic determinism in Schelling.

(c) A Philosophy of Organism -- The concept of Creativity, as we have pointed out above, expresses at the same time that Creativity does not exist beside its creatures, that none of its creatures is an exhausting manifestation of Creativity itself, and that nevertheless there is a causal relationship between Creativity and its creatures. We could define this relationship as a relation of ‘internal causation’.105 That same type of causation is at work in the process of concrescence where it constitutes the ‘causa sui’ of the becoming actual entity. According to Whitehead, macroscopic and microscopic processes of becoming are the two types of organic processes (PR 128f./ 196, 214f./ 327). In terms of causation, therefore, the organic process can be determined as a process of internal causation. Schelling defines organicity in exactly the same way: the organism is at the same time its own cause and effect; the organism produces itself, it constitutes itself.106 In other words: each organism is the perfect unity of freedom and necessity.107

Schelling rightly sees, as did Whitehead, that the finite organism cannot be explained by mechanical laws. Therefore, he assumes that the mechanic is derivative of the organic: the organic is logically fund ontologically prior to the mechanic.108 But this implies furthermore that Nature, as the only ground for the finite organisms, must itself be an organic unity.109 Each organism, as we know, is constituted by the activity of internal causation. Internal causation, in its turn, is the causal pattern of Creativity itself. This means, finally, that the activity of Whitehead’s Creativity and Schelling’s Imagination is in its essence an organic production. This is why Schelling states that wherever the Copula manifests itself in a finite instance, there is microcosm and organism:110 each finite organism is at once a unified world and an independent totality.111

Schelling’s repeated stress on the importance of the concept of organism for the understanding of Nature and his explicit linking together of imaginative productive activity and its organic outcome allows me to say that in Schelling we meet indeed an elaborate philosophy of organism. As a matter of fact, he indirectly understands his philosophy that way. The philosophy of nature, he states, has to consider Nature in its activity, in its productivity, i.e., we must start from the concept of Nature as an organism.112

Section III entailed only an outline of some main correspondences between the two philosophers. I think the least we can say is that the suggested similarities are astonishing. Yet, two remarks should certainly be made.

(1) It would be worthwhile to work out the comparison between Whitehead’s and Schelling’s philosophy of organism more in detail, for the understanding of Whitehead and the elaboration of his thinking would be improved by an exhaustive confrontation with Schelling’s philosophical system.

(2) One should pay special attention to some very fundamental differences between the two philosophers. Let me mention two of them, showing that Schelling is in the first place a Kantian, transcendental thinker, whereas Whitehead is not.

(a) In Whitehead there is the fundamental problem of the relationship between God and Creativity. It should be clear that in Schelling the principle of Concretion or Limitation is a structural component of what we have called here Imagination. As a matter of fact, Schelling would never admit God as the first exemplification of Creativity, i.e., as an actual entity. If he would speak about God at all, he would identify him with the Absolute, which is, in respect to nature, the Imaginative Activity itself.

(b) In addition to the first remark, Schelling understands the Imagination primarily as a necessary condition of the possibility of the actual world which has to be thought of in order to understand Nature as a whole. It is the same line of thought in Schelling which is responsible for his analysis of nature in ultimate processes of becoming (‘Aktionen’), on the one hand, and his explicit remark in a footnote that those ‘Aktionen’ should not be interpreted as existing but only as ideal grounds (categories) of explanation.113 Thus, where Schelling and Whitehead seemed at first sight to be extremely close to each other, they apparently are almost in complete opposition.

 

Notes

1A. N. Whitehead, "Autobiographical Notes." In P. A. Schilpp (ed.), The Philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead (The Library of Living Philosophers, vol.111). La Salle, Illinois, Open Court, 1951, p. 7. (Hereafter cited as AN.)

2 A. N. Whitehead, Essays in Science and Philosophy. New York, Greenwood Press, 1969, p. 116. (Hereafter cited as ESP.)

3 This can also be illustrated by the only passage in which Whitehead quotes Schelling (CN 47). The quotation of Schelling is borrowed from Lossky, The Intuitive Basis of Knowledge (1919). The passage quoted is taken from F. W. J. Schelling, Werke. Bd. II, Ueber den wahren Begriff der Naturphilosophie. Nach der Originalsausgabe in neuer Anordnung herausgegeben von M. Schroeter. Munchen, Beck, 1927, pp. 730f. (Hereafter cited as SW, vol. number, title, page (s).)

4V. Lowe, Understanding Whitehead. Baltimore, The Johns Hopkins Press, 1966, p. 256.

5V. Lowe, Understanding Whitehead, p. 257.

6A. N. Whitehead, Science and the Modern World. New York, Macmillan, 1967, pp. 82f. (Hereafter cited as SMW.)

7S. T. Coleridge, Biographia Literaria (vol. I and II). Ed. with his Aesthetical Essays by J. Shawcross. London, Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 93ff. (Hereafter cited as BL, vol. number, page(s).)

8 S. T. Coleridge, Collected Letters of S. T. Coleridge. Ed. By E. L. Griggs, Oxford, Clarendon, 1966, vol. I, p. 534. (Hereafter cited as Letters, vol., page). In a letter to William Taylor, Southey afterwards (1808) would write of Coleridge’s philosophical development: "Hartley was ousted by Berkeley, Berkeley by Spinoza and Spinoza by Plato" (quoted in M. Bader, Wordsworth. A Philosophical Approach. Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1967, p. 32).

9 BLI,103.

10 G. Marcel, Coleridge et Schelling. Paris, Aubier-Montaigne, 1971, p.39. (Hereafter cited as CS.)

11 BL I, 138.

12 CS, 42. In Schellings Wirkung im Ueberblick, Annemarie Pieper, on the contrary, states that Coleridge and Wordsworth, during their journey in Germany, attended Schelling’s lectures ("horten u.a. auch Schelling") (in H. M. Baumgartner (Hrsg.), Schelling. München, Alber Verlag, 1975, p. 144). As she gives no textual evidence (either in the text or in a footnote) for that assertion, this statement remains problematic.

13Letters I, 519.

14 Letters II, 706.

15 CS, 54.

16 BL I, 99: "The writings of the illustrious sage of Königsberg, the founder of the Critical Philosophy, more than any other work, at once invigorated and disciplined my understanding. The originality, the depth, and the compression of the thoughts; the novelty and subtlety, yet solidity and importance of the distinctions, the adamantine chain of the logic; and I will venture to add . . . the clearness and evidence, of the ‘CRITIQUE OF THE PURE REASON’; of the ‘JUDGMENT’; of the ‘METAPHYSICAL ELEMENTS OF NATURAL PHILOSOPHY’; and of his ‘RELIGION WITHIN THE BOUNDS OF PURE REASON’, took possession of me as with a giant’s hand. After fifteen years’ familiarity with them, I still read these and all his other productions with undiminished delight and increasing admiration."

17 M. Rader, Wordsworth, p. 184: "The form devised by fancy is mechanic in the sense that it is artificially superinduced and lacks genuine cohesion. The form created by imagination is ‘organic’ -- in other words, it is no independent thing, imposed as from outside upon an alien content, but it is the inner structural harmony of the subject-matter brought to completion."

18 J. Shawcross, Introduction to the Biographia Literaria. In BL I, LVII. W. Greiner, Deutsche Einflüsse auf die Dichtungstheorie con S. T. Coleridge. Dissertation. Tübingen, 1967, pp. 68f. J. Benziger, Organic Unity: Leibniz to Coleridge. In Publications of the Modern Language Association of America (66), 1951, p. 26. A. O. Lovejoy, however, argues that Coleridge may have learned that theory more from Jacobi and Schelling than from Kant (cf. A. O. Lovejoy, Essays in the History of Ideas. Westport, Greenwood, 1978, p. 254).

19 CS, 74.

20 BL I, 101.

21 CS, 75.

22 BL I, 101.

23 Letters IV, 792.

24 BL I, 101f.

25 Letters IV, 792.

26 J. Benziger, Organic Unity: Leibniz to Coleridge, p. 27.

27 J. W. Beach, Coleridge’s Borrowings from the German. In A Journal of English Literary History (9), 1942, pp. 51f. A short but well-documented account of Coleridge’s borrowings from A. W. Schlegel can be found in B. Wellek, A History of Modern Criticism 1750-1950 (vol. II: The Romantic Age). London, J. Cape, 1966, pp. 154-57.

28 A. C. Dunstan, The German influence on Coleridge (II). In The Modern Language Review (17), 1922, pp. 199-201, Dunstan remarks that one should not exaggerate the influence of Schelling (and Schlegel). But with this assertion Dunstan is rather an isolated Coleridge critic. Moreover, B. Wellek argues definitely in Kant in England (Princeton, Princeton Univ. Press, 1931, pp. 95ff.) and in his "Coleridge’s Philosophy and Criticism" (In T. M. Raysor, ed., The English Romantic Poets. A Review of Research, New York, 1950, pp. 101ff.) that one cannot ignore the overwhelming evidence of Coleridge’s borrowings from Schlegel, Schelling, and others. In this connection he defends the position of J. W. Beach, quoted above.

29 CS, 70.

30 BL I, 101f.

31 This is at least what Schelling says: cf. SW III Uber dos Verhältnis der Naturphilosophie zur Philosophie überhaupt, p. 542.

32 BL I, 183.

33 BL I, 103f.

34 BL I, 105. With the "1st volume of the Collected Tracts" Coleridge means obviously the first volume of the Philosophische Schriften that was published in 1809. The contents of that volume are: Vain Ich als Prinzip der Philosophie (1795), Philosophische Briefe über Dogmatismus und Kritizismus (1795), Abhandlungen zur Erläuterung des Idealismus der Wissenschaftslehre (1796-97), Ueber dos Verhältnis der bildenden Künste zur Natur (1807), and Philosophische Untersuchungen, über dos Wesen der menschlichen Freiheit und die damit zusammenhängenden Gegenstände (1809). The small pamphlet against Fiebte must be Darlegung des wahren Verhältnisses der Naturphilosophie zur verbesserten Fichteschen Lehre (1806). It is important, however, to notice that Coleridge had not read the System des transcendentalen Idea lismus (1800) before 1813 or 1814. The same holds good for the Darlegung des wahren Verhältnisses derNaturphilosophie zurverbesserten Fichteschen Lehre (read in 1815 or 1816) and the other works of the first volume of the Philosophische Schriften (cfr. CS, 61). This means that he had not read any important work on the philosophy of nature before publishing the Biographia Literaria (1817). This means that he knew the philosophy of nature only in an indirect way: by its definition in the System des transcendentalen Idealismus.

35 CS, 118-22

36 BL I, 102f.

37 BL I, 104f.

38 SW VI Historisch-Kritische Einleitung zur Philosophie der Mythologie, p. 198: "überlasse ich ibm gerne die von semen eigenen Landoleuten scharl ja zu scharf gerügten Entlehunogen aus meinen Sebriften, bei welchen meine Name nicht genannt wurde. Einem wirklich congenialen Mann sollte man dergleichen nicht anrechnen."

39 CS, 243-65: German and English texts both are inserted in extenso.

40 B. Wellek, A History of Modern Criticism (vol. II), p. 151, 153.

41 CS, 161. B. Wellek,A History of Modern Criticism (vol. II), pp. 154,156.

42 CS, 213, 237. B. Wellek, A History of Modern Criticism (vol. II), p. 154.

43 CS, 113-16. B. Wellek, A History of Modern Criticism (vol. II), pp. 154, 156.

44 R. Wellek, A History of Modern Criticism (vol. II), pp. 154, 156.

45 CS, 117, 236.

46 CS, 237.

47 Cf. supra: SMW, 85.

48 C. Hartshorne, "In Defense of Wordsworth’s View of Nature." In Philosophy and Literature (4), 1980, pp. 82, 89.

49 M. Bader, Wordsworth, pp. 5-9, 27-30, 34-38, 71-76, etc.

50 It should be noticed that Bader studies the relationship between Coleridge and Wordsworth without treating or examining the preceding problem of Coleridge’s plagiarism from Schelling. Bader treats this subject as if Coleridge were a quite independent and above all original thinker.

51M. Bader, Wordsworth, pp. 21, 30.

52 M. Bader, Wordsworth, pp. 34, 37, 69, 71.

53 M. Bader, Wordsworth, pp. 21, 61, 71, 135, 139, 145-47, 184f., 187.

54 R. Habluetzel, Diolektik nod Einbildungskraft. F. W.J. Schellings Lehre von der menschlichen Erkeuntuis. Basel, Verlag für Becht nod Gesellschaft. 1954, pp.78-82.

55 M. Bader, Wordsworth, pp. 145-47, 158f., 176f., 184f.

56 M. Bader, Wordsworth, p. 76.

57 M. Bader, Wordsworth, pp. 35-37, 110.

58 CS, 93ff. The period of Coleridge’s religious crisis (1812-16) corresponds very well with Schelling’s ‘dark’ period after he published the ‘Freiheitsschrift’ (1809) and before he delivered his Erlanger Vorträge: Ueber die Natur der Philosophie als Wissenschaft (1821). During this period, Schelling reconsidered his philosophy of identity from 1801. As a result his concept of the Absolute and God was modified.

59 E. D. Hirsch, Wordsworth and Schelling. A Typological Study of Romanticism. New Haven, Yale Univ. Press, 1960, pp. 4f.: He denies any direct and even any decisive, indirect influence of Schelling on Wordsworth. Yet it should be noticed: the parallels between Hirsch’s and Bader’s analyses are astonishing, the differences are instructive. For Bader ascribes the main philosophical intuitions in Wordsworth to the influence of Coleridge, whereas Hirsch, rendering the same intuitions, tries to trace them back to the common ‘Weltanschauung’ that Wordsworth and Schelling shared.

60 E. D. Hirsch, Wordsworth and Schelling, pp. 17, 18, 20-23, 100-02.

61 Op. cit., pp. 43, 54, 56, 38, 41f., 48, 103.

62 Op. cit., pp. 29, 34 36, 43, 82, 141, 143.

63 Op. cit., pp. 43, 141-43, 121.

64 Op. cit., pp. 110, 117, 121.

65 Op. cit., pp. 98-108, 129, 134-40.

66 E. D. Hirsch, Wordsworth and Schelling, pp. 43, 141-43. In Schelling one can find that theory best explained in: SW I, Von der Weltseele, pp. 435-46, and in SW III, Darlegung des wahren Verhältnisses der Naturphilosophie zur verbesserten Fichteschen Lehre, pp. 635.

67 I quote the English translation of B. D. Hirsch, Wordsworth and Schelling, pp. 142f. The original text goes as follows: "1st das Band die lehendige Ineinshildung des Einen mit dem Vielen, so ist notwendig mit dem Band zumal auch das aus Einheit nod Vielbeit Einsgewordene" (SW III, Darlegung des wahren Verhältnisses der Naturphilosophic zur verhesserten Fichteschen Lehre, p. 654).

68 AN 6. See also: A. N. Whitehead, Dialogues. Ed. by L. Price. Westport, Greenwood, 1977, pp. 6f.

69 A. N. Whitehead, Modes of Thought. New York, Macmillan, 1966, p. 5. (Hereafter cited as MT.) It should be noticed that the passage to which Whitehead refers is not taken from the BL, but from On Principles of Genial Criticism. The confusion in Whitehead’s memory can be explained by the fact that the latter lecture has been added to the BL in the Shawcross edition (cf. BL II, 219ff.; first edition in 1907) which Whitehead probably read through. The passage in Coleridge to which Whitehead refers in MT goes as follows: "Many years ago, the writer, in company with an accidental party of travelers, was gazing on a cataract of great height, breadth and impetuosity, the summit of which appeared to blend with the sky and clouds, while the lower part was hidden by rocks and trees; and on his observing, that it was, in the strictest sense of the word, a sublime object, a lady present assented with warmth to the remark, adding -- Yes! and it is not only sublime, but beautiful and absolutely pretty’" (BL II, 224f.).

70 SMW, pp. 15, 76-94.

71 SMW, p. 94.

72 SMW, p. 87.

73 Cf. W. Wordsworth, The Poetical Works of William Wordsworth. The Excursion. The Recluse, part I, book I. Ed. by B. de Selincourt and Helen Barbishire. Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1966, pp. 286f. See also K. A. Gould, The Modern Wordsworth. A Comparative Study of William Wordsworth and Charles Hartshorne. Unpublished Dissertation. Pennsylvania State University, 1973, p. 166.

74 This phrase is quoted in Mary A. Wyman, "Whitehead’s Philosophy of Science in the Light of Wordsworth’s Poetry," in Philosophy of Science (23), 1956, p. 283.

75 C. Hartshorne, Creative Synthesis and Philosophic Method. La Salle, Open Court, 1970, p. xvii. In a quite recent letter addressed to me (December 4, 1984), Hartshorne stresses this point more strongly: "When I was a Freshman at Haverford College I read Coleridge’s Aids to Reflection. This was my first reading, except for Emerson, of an idealistic writing. Since then I have read some of almost all German, British, American writers of this sort and some of the French. And I call myself an idealist. Peirce and Whitehead came rather late in this influence and I was already an idealist before I encountered them." Also, in a recent article, Hartshorne claims that Whitehead’s system best supports Wordsworth, and consciously so ("In Defense of Wordsworth’s View of Nature," p. 88). In addition we may indicate that K. A. Gould has written a Ph.D. dissertation on Wordsworth and Hartshorne (The Modern Wordsworth, 1973; for detailed references, see above).

76V. Lowe, Understanding Whitehead, p. 257, 268.

77 Mary A. Wyman, art. cit., p. 285.

78 Mary A. Wyman, art. cit., p. 286.

79 SW I, Philosophische Briefe über Dogmatismus und Kritizismus, p. 254. Equivalent terms are, according to SW I, Vain Ich, p. 138: ‘Transcendent realism’, empirical idealism, ‘dogmatism’.

80 MT, p. 5.

81 PB 18f./ 27f; 27140. SW II, Erster Entwurf eines Systems der Naturphilosophie, pp. 17f., 22-25.

82 PB 35/ 53. SW II, Erster Entwurf eines Systems der Naturphilosophie, pp. 22f. SW II, Einleitung zu dem Entwurf eines Systems der Naturphilosophie, p. 293.

83 SMW, p. 107. SW I, Von der Weltseele, p.434; SW IV, Aphorismen zur Einleitung in die Naturphilosophie, pp. 137, 148.

84 SW I, Von der Weltseele, p. 449.

85 I. Kant, Kritik der reinen Vernunft (Phil. Bib. 37a). Hamburg, Felix Meiner, 1976, p. 173a (A 118); pp. 176a-177a (A 120).

86 SW I, (E)rgänzungsband, Fernere Darstellungen, p. 475.

87 I. Kant, Kritik der reinen Vernunft (Phil. Bib. 37a). Hamburg, Felix Meiner, 1976, pp. 182a-183a (A 124).

88 SW I, Briefe, p. 256; Abhandlungen, pp. 281, 317f.; SW 1 (E), Fernere Darstellungen, p. 468; SW II, System des Transcendentalen Idealismus, p. 626; SW III, Philosophie der Kunst, pp. 406, 481; Darlegung des wahren Verhältnisses der Naturphilosophie zur verbesserten Fichteschen Lehre, p. 654.

89 SW V, Darstellung des Naturprozesses, pp. 388, 405; Darstellung der rein rationalen Philosophie, p. 518.

90 This could be regarded as the transcendental aspect of Whitehead’s theory of prehensions

91 SW I, Von der Weltseele, p. 446.

92 SW III, Philosophie der Kunst, p. 406.

93 SW II, System der transcendentalen ldealismus, p. 626; SW I (E), Fernere Darstellungen, p475; SW III, Philosophie der Kunst, pp. 406, 413.

94 SW I, Von der Weltseele, pp. 430, 435; SW III, Philosophie der Kunst, p. 413.

95 SW I, Von der Weltseele, pp. 430f.; SW II, Erster Entwurf, p. 118.

96 SW I, Von der Weltseele, pp. 429f.; SW IV, Aphorismen, pp.147f.

97 Here, I understand ‘Creativity’ as including God: for God is its first exemplification (cf. PB 7/11; 344/522). God as principle of limitation (concretion) is that aspect within the complex structure of Creativity as a whole that is responsible for the actual individuation; it is the aboriginal condition which qualifies the action of Creativity (cf. PB 225/344).

98 SW III, Darstellung meines Systems, p. 5.

99 SW II, System des transcendentalen ldealismus, p.341: "Wodurch offenbar wird, dass die Natur ursprünglich identisch ist mit dem, was in uns als Intelligentes und Bewusstes erkannt wird."

100 SW III, Darstellung meines Systems, p.5: "Alles sey = Ich, und existire nichts als was = Ich sey." This could be regarded as Schelling’s formulation of the ‘ontological principle’ -- cf. in Whitehead: PR 18/ 27f.; 167/ 254.

101 SW I, Ideen zu einer Philosophie der Natur pp. 689, 706.

102 SW II, System des transcendentalen Idealismus, pp. 331, 342, 398f.

103 SW II, Erster Entwurf, pp. 122-27, 101-04.

104 SW I, Von der Weltseele, p.501. See in this respect: H. Zeltner, Gleichgewicht als Seinsprinzip. In Studium Generale (14), 1961.

105 Whitehead uses the phrase ‘internal determination’: PR 25/ 38, 27/41, 46ff./ 74ff. See also: SMW, p. 123.

106 SW I, Abhandlungen, p. 310; ldeen zu einer Philosophie der Natur, p. 690; SW II, Erster Entwurf, p.145.

107SW I, Ideen zu einer Philosophie der Natur, p. 698.

108 SW I, Von der Weltseele, pp. 417f.

109 SW II, Erster Entwurf, p. 193; SW I, Abhandlungen, pp. 310f.

110 SW I, Von der Weltseele, pp. 442, 416, 449.

111 SW I, Abhandlungen, p. 311; ldeen zu einer Philosophie der Natur, p. 691.

112 SW II, Erster Entwurf, pp. 13f.; SW I, Von der Weltseele, p. 417.

113 SW II, Erster Entwurf, p. 23.


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