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date: 18 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter proposes that our very notions of ‘literature’ and ‘philosophy’ are, to a great extent, forged in the Romantic era. The chapter surveys the eighteenth-century background to this issue in the sceptical empiricism of David Hume and the German transcendental idealism of Immanuel Kant, F. W. von Schelling, and J. G. Fichte. In examining the writings of William Blake, Edmund Burke, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Wordsworth, and William Hazlitt, it also charts the ways in which the revolutionary debates of the 1790s politicized the disciplines of philosophy and ‘theory’, leading to an anti-philosophical rhetoric in the work of writers such as Thomas Love Peacock, Charles Lamb, and Lord Byron. Finally, the chapter scrutinizes the boundaries between Romantic philosophy and the Scottish common-sense philosophy of Thomas Reid and Dugald Stewart, before examining the philosophical significance of the idea of ‘Literature’ in the work of Romantic writers, particularly Percy Shelley and John Keats.

Keywords: abstraction, empiricism, common sense, idealism, imagination, intuition, philosophy, power, reason, the sublime

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