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date: 25 April 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter discusses the philosophers who influenced Shelley's works. Shelley, for instance, was influenced by Plato's metaphysics, political science, and poetics; he often redeploys, in his poems and images, ideas taken from his deep study of the philosopher's writings. He was also interested in the French materialists, of whom he read Laplace, Condorcet, Volney, Cabanis, and Holbach, the latter of whom he translated in the summer of 1812, and seems to have been particularly influential. Shelley quoted Holbach' radically anti-Christian masterpiece Système de la nature (1770) at length in the notes to Queen Mab, but perhaps the most important philosopher of all for him was David Hume. Shelley's polemical Essay on a Future State draws heavily both on Hume's scepticism and his psychological account of belief.

Keywords: Percy Bysshe Shelley, philosophers, Plato, Holbach, David Hume

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