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Title: Coleridge's conception of a Christian Society and its influence on later thought
Author: Jay, Charles Douglas
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1952
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Inasmuch as the present field of Inquiry is not entirely new, a brief apology may be in order. Though Coleridge is not generally recognized as a social philosopher, a number of writers have in recent years dealt briefly with his political and social thought. Among these are Harold Beeley in 'Coleridge: Studies by Several Hands on the Hundredth Anniversary of His Death', C. C. Brinton in 'The Political Ideas of the Englieh Romanticists', Alfred Cobban in 'Edmund Burke and the Revolt Against the Eighteenth Century', Keith Failing in 'Sketches in Nineteenth Century Biography', O. K. Gloyn in 'The Ohuroh in the Social Order', J. W. Muirheed in 'Coleridge as Philosopher', C. R. Banders in 'Coleridge and the Broad Church Movement', Basil Willey in 'Nineteenth Century Studies'. In addition, B.J. White has made a selection from Coleridge's writings entitled 'The Political Thought of Samuel Taylor Coleridge'. The works cited of O.K. Gloyn, C.H. Sanders and Basil Willey also contain a number of indications as to the direction of the influence which this phase of Coleridge's thought has had. But while these works have been helpful in many respects (as acknowledged in footnotes throughout the text), none of them has the exact frame of reference of the present thesis. In the first place, Coleridge's writings are here examined to determine not primarily his political theory but rather, as the title implies, his Christian social theory. The latter is not identical with either his politics! theory or his theology, though part of his dsitinctlve contribution lies in the way in which he demonstrated their inter-relatedness. O. K. Gloyn has approached him from the viewpoint of the social function of the Church as he conceived it but he regards the conception of the nation as ultimate for Coleridge, whereas it is here maintained that his scattered writings imply a yet more basic conception of a Christian society within which nation, state and church must find their place. Coleridge projected an ideal of a Society that is distinctively Christian in its framework, and not merely in the inner convictions of its component members; end it is his particular formulation of this ideal which continues to exercise an important influence on contemporary thinkers. The present thesis is offered then as an attempt to expound more fully and more adequately than hitherto, Coleridge's conception of a Christian Society, and to investigate the nature and extent of its influence up to the present day, as a measure of its significance in the history of social thought. In these respects, this study is both different from end wider in scope than previous essays in this field. The plan of the thesis is largely self-explanatory. The first three brief chapters are introductory, designed to indicate the social end intellectual climate in which Coleridge's thought matured, the formative factors in the growth of his social concepts, and the place of the latter in his larger philosophy. The following three chapters are mainly expository, in which an analysis is made of his mature thought about the State, the Church and social criticism. In the final chapter of Part One, after examining his theory of the nation, an attempt is made to piece together the main elements of the whole, to indicate the distinctive character of his conception of a Christian Society end to offer certain criticisms of his interpretation of Church and State. In Part Two the Influence of hie conception of society has been traced in the thought of men of letters, theologians and social reformers, educators and political philosophers, from his contemporaries up to those present-day thinkers who are convinced, with him, that there is a Christian ideal for society, end that the social order can be an instrument of the sovereign, invisible, Kingdom of God. A word of explanation regarding the Appendixes; certain writers who have allegedly been influenced by Coleridge but whose work raves Is very slight or very doubtful evidence of influence of his social thought, hove been relegated to an appendix. R.W. Emerson and Horace Bushnell have also been placed there, as the influence in this respect seemed not important enough to warrant a separate section on American thought. It has been considered wiser to do this than either to burden the main text with these men, or to avoid all mention of them.
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Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
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