Ontological unity and empirical diversity in Shelley's thought : with reference to Ibn Arabi's theory of imagination
The key to Shelley's thought system lies in understanding that the thing and its opposite, the idea and its contrary, are brought together simultaneously. Shelley tries to resolve in one way or another the contradiction between transcendentalism and immanence, essentialism and socialism, and finally thought and object. He makes the unity of life his manifesto and yet does not deny the diversity of beings. The ontological clearly has a place within his system and nonetheless the phenomena are considered epistemological divisions, non-essential and insubstantial. He believes in the existence of a comprehensive sign system with no transcendent meaning and yet speaks of an absolute incomprehensibility of a transcendent being which defies words and signs. In short, beings for him are only relationships with no essence, and existence is still one essence in which none of these relations holds true. In harnessing the contraries Shelley's thought cannot be categorised as reductionist, dialectical, or deconstructionist. The logic he follows denies neither of the two opposites nor does it link them dialectically through accepting a third element, but resolves the opposition through a shift of perspective. Existence is both transcendent and immanent, essential and relational, and comprehensive and ineffable. This dissertation attempts to show that from such a perspective the rhetorical or deconstructive coincides with the grammatical or the metaphysical. Although the opposition set by the deconstructionists between the rhetorical and the grammatical readings is assumed by Shelley to exist between the metaphorical and the literal, nevertheless he accepts them as two epistemes; the ontological remains existing but unreadable, and the text is only its expression.