By Tim Milnes

ISBN-10: 0511064365

ISBN-13: 9780511064364

ISBN-10: 0521810981

ISBN-13: 9780521810982

This formidable research sheds new mild at the approach the English Romantics handled the elemental difficulties of information. Kant complained that the failure of philosophy within the eighteenth-century to reply to empirical scepticism had produced a tradition of ''indifferentism.'' Tim Milnes explores the stress among this epistemic indifference and a perpetual compulsion to understand. the strain is so much essentially glaring within the prose writing of the interval, in works resembling Wordsworth's Preface to Lyrical Ballads, Hazlitt's Essay at the ideas of Human motion, and Coleridge's Biographia Literaria.

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Similarly, Michael Fischer’s otherwise accurate Cavellian observation that the Romantics move away from knowledge as they come to believe that ‘the epistemological problem of knowing the world sidetracks us from the real problem of accepting it [.  Romanticism’s importance to modern theory and postanalytic philosophy takes the form not of a point of view or a belief, but a dilemma which, put crudely, becomes the question: must knowledge come first? Moreover, it is a dilemma specifically located in the context of Hume’s challenge to philosophy to justify its aspirations to objectivity and thus to situate itself appropriately within the complex network of concerns which make up human existence.

Mounce, meanwhile, agrees, claiming that Kemp Smith conflates two kinds of incompatible naturalism: one, that of Hume and eighteenth-century Scottish philosophy, which subordinated knowledge to belief, and another, that of scientific positivism, which presumes the possibility of a rational explanation of the world. In other words, he ‘confuses epistemological naturalism, the view that our knowledge depends on what is given us by nature, with metaphysical naturalism, the view that there is no reality apart from the natural world’.

Knowledge and Indifference in English Romantic Prose Here, the language of inspiration is articulated by the new philosophy of ideas. While Dennis retains some of the old sense of the infallibility of the ‘inspired’ poetic genius, in his hands it is translated into an idea of the harmonious relationship between the enthusiastic passions and the ideas to which they ‘naturally’ belong.  Dennis’s emphasis on genius, enthusiasm and the emotions of the sublime may seem to foreshadow Romanticism; not least when later in the same essay he claims that, of the ‘Three Things which contribute to the Perfection of Poetry’, ‘The First is Nature, which is the Foundation and Basis of all.

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Knowledge and Indifference in English Romantic Prose by Tim Milnes


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