Recognition and romantic hermeneutics: Hegel and the English romantic tradition

Deakin, Wayne George (2012) Recognition and romantic hermeneutics: Hegel and the English romantic tradition. Doctoral thesis (DPhil), University of Sussex.

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Abstract

In what follows I seek to articulate a romantic hermeneutics, that is, an interpretive
approach to texts acknowledged as central to the canon of English Romanticism,
that articulates the human relationship to artistic creation, the natural world and
metaphysics. Through this methodological approach I hope to integrate philosophy
with the study of English Romanticism, and delineate a coherent, inter-disciplinary
corpus of intellectual ideas, all of which can be subsumed under the rubric of
“Romanticism.” Using this hermeneutical approach, I offer Hegel’s teleological
theory as an example of a romantic mythology—that is, a story that attempts to reintegrate
the human subject into the natural world whilst at the same time retaining a
sense of imaginative autonomy. I offer a reading of Hegel, which combines his
social philosophy with his philosophy of art, and integrate the two areas of his work
using an expanded understanding of his notion of recognition. What motivates the
philosophical approach to English Romanticism, and the use of Hegel as an
exemplar of a romantic narrative, is the conviction that the English romantic
tradition is philosophically rich in ways not always appreciated by traditional
commentary. I posit a connection between seemingly disparate Romanticisms such
as those of Wordsworth, Coleridge and the later P.B. Shelley. All of these thinkers
and artists present us with varying forms of romantic mythology, each looking to
retain a contingent, autonomous subjectivity, whilst retaining a necessary connection
to the empirical world. Working on this assumption, I explicate these different
romantic narratives, whilst illustrating the structural features common to them all.
Central to my thesis is the idea that this philosophical-narratorial template gives the
critic a useful hermeneutical reading tool with which to approach texts, which, whilst subsumed under the generic category of Romanticism, offer contradictory
conclusions in their treatment of artistic creation, nature and metaphysics. Of
course, this is only one approach amongst many, and as such a romantic
hermeneutics, that whilst not exhaustive, hopes to add to the other critical prisms
through which Romanticism has been explicated as an aesthetic movement, or a
substantive canon of texts.
I contend that all the major canonical romantic poets covered here approach the
problem of philosophical certainty through the romantic ideal that there is an
intuitional assent to knowledge through aesthetics. Using a Hegelian approach as an
interpretive guide is therefore useful in that Hegel endorses art as a way of
apprehending philosophical certainty on the one hand, yet on the other places
philosophy on a higher interpretive level. This means that in using Hegel we can
gain a double-awareness of our subject matter; we see the strengths of art in its
approximation of philosophical certainty, and we can critique it in terms of its
relationship to speculative philosophy, which acts as an alternative narrative for
attaining philosophical certainty. I aim to argue in this thesis therefore that both the
romantic poets and Hegel share a common romantic purpose, which is explored in
their romantic mythologies.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of English > English
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BD Speculative Philosophy > BD240 Methodology
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 31 May 2012 08:11
Last Modified: 25 Aug 2015 14:06
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/39271

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