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By Timothy Michael

What position may still cause play within the construction of a unfastened and simply society? do we declare to understand whatever in a box as advanced as politics? and the way can the reason for political rationalism be complicated while it truly is visible as having blood on its arms? those are the questions that occupied a gaggle of British poets, philosophers, and polemicists within the years following the French Revolution.

Timothy Michael argues that a lot literature of the interval is a tribulation, or a critique, of cause in its political capacities and a try of the categories of information to be had to it. For Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley, Burke, Wollstonecraft, and Godwin, the old series of revolution, counter-revolution, and terror in France―and radicalism and repression in Britain―occasioned a dramatic reassessment of ways top to strengthen the venture of enlightenment. The political considered those figures needs to be understood, Michael contends, within the context in their philosophical inspiration. significant poems of the interval, together with The Prelude, The Excursion, and Prometheus Unbound, are during this interpreting an adjudication of competing political and epistemological claims.

This booklet bridges for the 1st time conventional pillars of Romantic reports: the period’s politics and its theories of the brain and information. Combining literary and highbrow background, it presents an account of British Romanticism within which excessive rhetoric, political prose, poetry, and poetics converge in a discourse of enlightenment and emancipation.

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170). The dream of pure reason—­autonomous, legislative, and creative in her most exalted mood—is the great theme of early Romanticism, in En­gland and in Germany. Words­worth’s language of the “rights” of reason in the above passage echoes the juridical language used by Kant to describe his Critique of Pure Reason. In the well-­k nown meta­phor with which he begins that work, Kant describes his project as “a court of justice, by which reason may secure its rightful claims while dismissing all its groundless pretensions, and this not by mere de- Kant and the Revolutionary Settlement of Early Romanticism 39 crees but according to its own eternal and unchangeable laws; and this court is none other than the critique of pure reason itself,”12 by which Kant means a critique of a priori cognition.

His Burkean argument in “Rationalism in Politics” is that all of politics has become “rationalist,” by which he means based on the kind of knowledge one can find in books, and that this is a cause of great concern: rationalism is a “disease” that destroys all sense of what Burke describes as the partnership between the present and the past. The argument is premised on a distinction between two types of knowledge: “technical” knowledge, which is capable of formulation, and “practical” knowledge, which is not.

When I refer to other critics, it is because I think their work is valuable and because I am indebted to them. The following chapters, viewed together, show that the singular “critique” of the book’s title applies only in a broad sense, insofar as this group of writers shared a set of terms and concerns in their reassessment of the roles that reason and knowledge are to play in public life: they all “put reason on trial” in some way or another. But, as will become clear, they do so in strikingly different terms.

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