Issue 1 - 2 : Schelling’s After-Lives
International Journal of Philosophy and Theology
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This paper considers how Schelling’s earlier work functions as a fifth column for the Germano-Coleridgeans, particularly Coleridge himself and Green. I consider their engagement with Schelling’s First Outline in relation to the Hunterian collection bought by the Crown in 1799, which made the life sciences a public concern within the framework of how knowledge was to be organized. The paper explores the pressure the life sciences put on philosophy and the constraining of both, in the context of British Idealism, by religious imperatives that are internal, conceptual censors, and external (cultural and institutional) censors. Consolidating his work between the Romantic and Victorian periods, Green is a neglected figure in a progress from natural to political theology that coincides with a shift in British idealism from Schelling to a sanitized Hegel. Coleridge’s dialogue with and often expedient misrepresentations of Schelling are more complex, as he uses Schelling’s “Stufenfolge” to argue for a design in nature, yet is constantly troubled by a biodiversity and difference in nature to which Schelling was more open. Initially deploying Schelling to reconcile transcendental and natural philosophy, Coleridge can never entirely escape the trouble that biology causes philosophy and that philosophy (through Schelling) causes religion.