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Knowledge and Indifference in English Romantic Prose


  • Page extent: 292 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.43 kg


 (ISBN-13: 9780521035958)

This 2003 study sheds light on the way in which the English Romantics dealt with the basic problems of knowledge, particularly as they inherited them from the philosopher David Hume. Kant complained that the failure of philosophy in the eighteenth century to answer empirical scepticism had produced a culture of 'indifferentism'. Tim Milnes explores the way in which Romantic writers extended this epistemic indifference through their resistance to argumentation, and finds that it exists in a perpetual state of tension with a compulsion to know. This tension is most clearly evident in the prose writing of the period, in works such as Wordsworth's Preface to Lyrical Ballads, Hazlitt's Essay on the Principles of Human Action and Coleridge's Biographia Literaria. Milnes argues that it is in their oscillation between knowledge and indifference that the Romantics prefigure the ambivalent negotiations of modern post-analytic philosophy.

• Covers important Romantic writers, including Wordsworth, Hazlitt and Coleridge • Sheds light on the philosophical tensions underlying Romanticism's relation to knowledge • Will be of interest to philosophical historians as well as literary scholars


Acknowledgments; Introduction; Romanticism's knowing ways; 1. From artistic to epistemic creation: the eighteenth century; 2. The charm of logic: Wordsworth's prose; 3. The dry romance: Hazlitt's immanent idealism; 4. Coleridge and the new foundationalism; 5. The end of knowledge: Coleridge and theosophy; Conclusion: life without knowledge; Notes; Bibliography; Index.


'Milnes illuminates the relationship between Romantic philosophy and literature; in doing so, he affords new insights into contemporary approaches to cross-disciplinary criticism.' BARS Bulletin & Review

'Milnes produces a very informed and erudite consideration … a very deep and at times taxing though rewarding study … the reader is rewarded by graceful turns of phrase that convey rich insight and understanding of the very constructs of knowledge.' European Romantic Review

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