Adapting Philosophy to Literature: The Case of John Keats Author(s): E.

Douka Kabitoglou Reviewed work(s): Source: Studies in Philology, Vol. 89, No. 1 (Winter, 1992), pp. 115-136 Published by: University of North Carolina Press Stable URL: . Accessed: 28/10/2011 22:12
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Adapting The

Case of





byE. Douka Kabitoglou

Poet is the most unpoetical of any thing in existence; because

he has no identity-he is continually in for-and filling some other Body" (L 1:387).1 Keats's well-known statement of the poet's self-dissolution into the object of his passionate involvement carries strong echoes of Shaftesburian, indeed Platonic, "enthusiasm." Walter J. Bate, in his discussion of the sympathetic imagination, maintains that "the importance of the poet's 'enthusiastic' absorption in his subject, with the resulting obliteration of his own identity, appeared early in eighteenth-century criticism"; he detects the origins of this attitude in Shaftesbury, for whom the poet's function is to see "'the inward form and structure of his fellow creatures,' and in the portrayal of them is himself 'no certain man, nor has any certain or genuine character,' but is 'annihilated' in the ebb and flow of the dialogue he presents." 2 It was precisely for this loss of self and individual awareness in the act of poetic creation that Plato undervalued the poet and refused the name of "art" to poetry-both as initial production and as interpretative reproduction. To the extent that the imaginative poet is invaded by a "power" that is the essence of inspiration, and "launches into harmony and rhythm," he is similar to the Dionysian dancers who are "seized with the Bacchic transport, and are possessed," or the Apollonian singers of divination. To Keats's version of "unpoeticality" as a lack of any constant and permanent identity, as non-predication, as a formlessness that can "fill" or accommodate any other body,3 Plato in
I L = The Lettersof John Keats, 1814-1821, ed. Hyder Edward Rollins, 2 VOIS. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1958). 2 "The Sympathetic Imagination in Eighteenth-Century English Criticism," ELH 12 (1945): 149. 3This is at once both a parallel and an antithesis to the Platonic "receptacle" or Second Cause which, because of its lack of form, offers a "housing" to all Forms.

115 ? 1992 The University of North Carolina Press

and the lover (Phaedrus. it is a madness of divine dispensation that places the poet (vessel of the Muses) along with the other recipients of the gods-the prophet. such intensity. the mystic. he asserts. W. the intellectual. poetry not being an "art" (Plato defines art as "knowledge"). In his marginalia to Burton's Anatomyof Melancholy. and his wings begin to grow" (249d-e). 265b).he exclaims in desperation: 4 All references to Plato's works are to The CollectedDialogues of Plato.6 The presupposition that Dionysian frenzy. Garrod (London: Oxford University Press. Musean inspiration. The alien disturbance of conventional human conduct captures "the soul of the philosopher. is reminded of true beauty. . NJ: Humanities Press. 2nd ed. 534a-e). Apollonian prophecy." and "as soon as he beholds the beauty of this world.116 Philosophyand Literature: JohnKeats the Ionicounterposes the poetic "lightness" and ascensional capacitythe poet being one who does not "empower" the bodies of natural objects but is instead "empowered" by the divine." who distances himself from the "busy doings of mankind": "when he that loves beauty is touched by such madness he is called a lover. 1961). philosophical madness'-or a condition of being "teased out of [habituall thought. and the divine may have been to Plato. and Aphrodisian love (leading ultimately to the philosophical "chase after being") have common roots dominates Platonic metaphysics and aesthetics.4 So. Keats also employs bird imagery to describe philosophical pursuit: "What sea-bird o'er the sea / Is a philosopher the while he goes / Winging along where the great water throes?" ("To ." or being merged into him. ed. 1956). 15-17). Including the Letters.John Sallis introduces the element of "intensity" as the qualitative difference between the two experiences. The paradox in the Platonic argument is that the philosopher is also presented as subject to this "heaven-sent madness. H. [Atlantic Heights. 244d). "is understood as madness" (Beingand Logos:The Way of Platonic Dialogia'. 6 All references to Keats's poetry are to The Poetical Worksof John Keats. it seems to have bewildered interpreters of later years. 5 In an attempt to desynonymize the Greek words piA(a (friendship) and 'ipwcc." 11. for whom he becomes an articulator (Ion. 19861. and is referred to in the Phaedrusagain as the fourth type of mania-the "philosopher" thus replacing the "lover. who tried to decipher the mystery of the common source of sexuality and spirituality. ed. Edith Hamilton and Huntington Cairns (Princeton: Princeton University Press. No matter how natural this correlation between the erotic. Keats was one of these interpreters. 107)." to use Keats's phrase-is given as the highest form of sacred possession." which is far superior to "man-made sanity" (Phaedrus.

who might have helped him to say more (or less) about Beauty and Truth. I don't understandgreek-is the Love of God and the Love of women expressed by the same word in Greek?I hope my little mind is wrong-if not I could-Has Platoseparatedthese loves? . he shows no knowledge. "could it be shown that he read Plato or. immortal" 11. and readings of Severn. lustful love with the abstract adorationof the deity. "Some Ideas and Usages. to develop the Platonic theme that Good and Beauty and Wisdom are identical" (137). 1978).. understood 7 Quoted in Robert Gittings."9 Consequently. 9 R. having read. . if this earthly love has power to make / Men's being mortal. London: Heinemann. 1958)." 1. . winnyish. to propositions that support Keats's "dialogic" contact with with Plato through the mediation of his friends-conversations Bailey. The conviction that the poet knew "little Plato and less Aristotle" is held by a large number of Keats commentators." Keats-Shelley Journal12 [19631:75). after previously quoting Plato to show that Beauty is a good in itself. proceeds . Sperry. JohnKeats:TheLiving Year. Gittings. as the measure of the human scale. Taylor. Davies. has always been a subject of controversy.832-351). and a channel through which he came in contact with the thought of Plato. the raw scrofula. reprint." arguing that the poet never really possessed "anything resembling a fixed philosophical position" because of the quality of his mind. Opinions range from interpretations that absolutely deny him any access to the Platonic texts. which was "poetical rather than philosophical". for example. I mean that there is nothing disgraces me in my own eyes so much as being one of a race of eyes. Burton is considered by some critics as one of the sources behind Keats's beauty/truth identification. 125. although 'tis understood / The mere commingling of passionate breath. Douka Kabitoglou 117 Here is the old plague spot: the pestilence. / Produce more than our searching witnesseth: / What I know not" [1. though free from any single "intellectual dominance.E." in John Keats:A Reassessment. 140. Kenneth Muir (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press. who asserted. The question of Platonism in Keats. for example.21 September i8i8 to 21 September 1819 (1954. 8 Stuart M. that "A man may be 'twixt ape and Plato" ("The Poet: A Fragment. T.843-441) and the other affirmative/ negative ("Just so may love..ed. .8 A similar contention holds that "he was essentially a poet and without a philosophical training. .7 The poetic version of such interrogation is given in Endymion in two forms-one conditional ("Now. points out that "Burton. of Plato or Berkeley. 7). Shelley. characterizes as "notoriously difficult" any attempt to clarify "Keats's ideas and his relationship to the intellectual currents of his time. nose and mouth beings in a planet called the earthwho all from Plato to Wesley have always mingled goatish." he was open to a "multitude of sources" as a result of his avid reading and his contact with the literary circles of his time ("Keats's Skepticism and Voltaire. Ha! I see how they endeavour to divide-but there appearsto be a horridrelationship. Jr.

11Aileen Ward. including "Plato and Aristotle. at the Cross-Keys and Bible in Cornhill. near Stocks-Market. It is believed that Bailey introduced Keats to a new world of scholarly disputes and intellectual fermentation and that the two friends' topics of conversation covered a wide spectrum. 12 Ward. While he was agonizingly exploring the relation between "beauty and truth. 175). 13 Bernard Blackstone. Evans IIl mentions the poet Thomas Gray among the leaders of this new movement. 19741. Euthyphro. [First and Second Alcibiades. Rivals. philosophy. Apology. morals. 3. ii). 1761. especially Taylor's translations."" Keats was already engrossed in an inner conflict which at once promoted a "Life of Sensations rather than of Thoughts" (L 1:185). Theages.1-i8 Philosophyand Literature: JohnKeats or 'took' to him. 127. so too in English with the researches of Thomas Taylor. Printed for A. "which contrasts sharply with the nearly total submergence of the tradition from the middle of the seventeenth on into the eighteenth century. Dacier." His sojourn at Oxford occasioned a study and discussion of the Timaeusand the reading of Wordsworth's "Immortality Ode. John Keats:TheMaking of a Poet (London: Secker and Warburg." Frank B. Ford. 1739."'0 Those who support the opposite view place the seminal period of Keats's contact with the Platonic philosophy during his stay with Bailey at Oxford in September 1817. 1963). Together with a translation of his choicest dialogues. Protagoras. 1951). "the book on Bailey's shelves which made the most lasting impression on him was Madame 12 Dacier's Worksof Plato Abridg'd. Illustrated with notes. but also affirmed that "speculation" helps "to ease the Burden of the Mystery" (L 1:277). 1772). and politicks. While embedding the rediscovery of Plato within a "renewed interest in the antiquities of Greece" (11). TheConsecrated Urn: An Interpretation Keatsin Termsof Growth of ." it has been proposed. Laches.] In two volumes. then. Floyer Sydenham and Ebenezer McFaite" (TwoClassesof Men: Platonismand EnglishRomanticThought[London: John Murray. Phaedo. David Newsome draws a parallel between English and European scholarship with the remark that "as the canonical texts themselves were appearing in Germany together with contemporary commentaries (Mendelssohn's study of the Phaedoin 1767 was a landmark here). London. viz. CA: Stanford University Press. ThePrefigurative Imagination JohnKeats:A Study of the Beauty-Truth of Identification and Its Implications(Stanford. as well as Floyer Sydenham and Thomas Taylor ("The Background of the Romantic Revival of Platonism" [Unpublished Dissertation. With an account of his life. 19381. 128. Crito. Translated from the French. which "were impregnated with Neoplatonic imagery and sentiments" (20-21). medieval commentary and seventeenth-century poetry. Bell. Milton's theology and Coleridge's metaphysics." Keats must have been attracted to the Platonic philosophy of beauty-the discursive counterpart of the Greek "fair attitude" which subsumes the aesthetics of the "Grecian Urn. The full bibliographical data of the work as given by Evans ("The Background of the Romantic Revival of Platonism") are: The Works of Plato abridg'd. 1749." "Understandably. Newsome argues that the Romantic knowledge of Plato had been mediated by later commentators and interpreters. By M. Examining the revival of interest that forms the background to the Romantic attraction to Platonism. Princeton. the story might be different. 1701 (1719-20." 13 Keats's exposure to the Platonic dialogues "while 10 Newell F.

despite Keats's aversion to "consequitive thinking" (L 1:184). anamnesis" (Wordsuworth's Poetry of the Imagination[Oxford: Clarendon Press. where reason fades. and the interplay between recollection and imagination shapes the essential character of Wordsworth's poetry of the imagination. I believe that Sherry's identification of the recollective process with the imaginative activity illuminates Keats's concern with the imagination (to be discussed below)." 11. 30-31). . Bradley. 21-22)." must have "absorbed elements of Platonism into his thought. 148-54. Consequently. The former refers possibly to Platonism. distinguishing between "old" and "cold" philosophy. The Mind of John Keats (1926. on the other hand. 15CIarence Dewitt Thorpe. Douka Kabitoglou 119 staying with Bailey." though admitting access to the Neoplatonic doctrine via Spenser. 49." has been deduced also from later references. as when "he mentions Plato and Apuleius aproposof the story of Psyche. Both the poetry and the letters indicate that. and allows us to engraft it into the Platonic tradition." Nineteenth Century 93 (1923): 67. or "divine" philosophy. though not "consistently Platonic." ll. 1980]. / But divine melodious truth. declaring that "he uses the name of Plato for a rhyme in a jocular poem. who was probably reading the Republicof Plato at the time." '5 Keats's attitude to /ntoaoota is ambivalent. the protagonist of Lamia. until I grow high-rife / With old Philosophy" ("On Seeing a Lock of Milton's Hair." ll. / Philosophic numbers smooth" ("Ode." Although Keats's remembrance of origins pertains more to what I would call a "collective" rather than an "individual" past (as becomes manifest in the Hyperion poems most extensively dealing with Mnemosyne). he entreats Apollo to let him share "With the hot lyre and thee / The staid Philosophy" ("God of the Meridian. 1959).235-36). Keats's stance. New York: Russell and Russell.E. Thorpe also cites two critical opinions absolutely dismissing the poet's acquaintance with the Platonic text: Sidnev Colvin. but also through his sporadic contacts with Shelley. thus hinting at another possible channel of contact between Keats and Plato. 14 Herbert Warren. tranced thing. C. 1964). Imagination and recollection are interpreted here as acts of mind which repeat a primary act of mind called. Keats recognizes also the identity of his poetical and this philosophical occupation: "Where the nightingale doth sing / Not a senseless. his consciousness of philosophy had been stirred-not only by Bailey. again. Sherry endows the Romantic imaging power with an originary metaphysical status: "The imagination is constituted through the act of recollection. Keats certainly associates with the empiricism and science of his day: "Do not all charms fly / At the mere and Form (London: Longmans. / In the calm'd twilight of Platonic shades" (1. "Keats as a Classical Scholar. by Socrates. 17-20). and A. in poetic statements like the following: "Pangs are in vain. ix). who professes that Keats "had read no Plato. Here it seems appropriate to recall Charles Sherry's discussion of "recollective recognition" as the founding principle of the "Ode. "Cold" philosophy. but there is no sign that he had read a word of Plato or knew that he had written of beauty as well as truth" (149)." 14 and of course from internal textual evidence-for example. whose "phantasy was lost.

he felt a need to go beyond poetry to the sources of thought itself.229-30). but "faced with the insolubles of life." tried to engage him in Plato. . however. JohnKeats. Shakespeare. . The origin of the statement in Keats's epitaph has been attributed to various texts-the Phaedrus. as an attitude of "humility towards the 'Eternal Being. or. for 'knowing for truth. though. "Philosophy will clip an Angel's wings." as compared to the spoken word. 19A." which appears in the dialogue and was chosen by the poet as his epitaph. 18 Gittings. or Wordsworth.'" "Even so. Conversely. 2. Here Plato argues about the vulnerability of the word when written "in water or that black fluid we call ink." one critic comments on the subject. of course. 1963). "Greek Sources of 'Writ in Water': A Further Note.616. so that Keats's 16 Gittings argues that from the spring of 1819 Keats's approach to poetry acquired a more deeply ingrained philosophical strain. that although John Taylor. but also an instinctive orientation towards a system that could achieve integration of Sensation and Thought. JohnKeats(London: Oxford University Press. "who had taken the place of Bailey as someone with whom Keats could discuss intellectual matters. D. Milton. without being able to defend itself (276c).234-36). 16 Keats's sustained interest in Plato is documented by the report that the Dacier translation was one of the works he had Severn read to him on his deathbed. G.120 Philosophyand Literature: JohnKeats touch of cold philosophy?" (Lamia." Keats-Shelley Journal24 (1975): 12. / Empty the haunted air" (Lamia." including Dacier's Plato. 19681. and the memory of great men. that the poet often used the term "philosophy" as the context that safeguards the freedom of the imagination.2. he offers the distinction." in that he never applied himself to a systematic study of philosophical works. so Keats could not have an ultimate reminder of the phrase "writ in water. Woodman. . to study philosophy as a philosopher. I think. as a way of life.' though not by intellectual inquiry" (Scepticism and Poetry: An Essay on the Poetic Imagination[London: George Allen and Unwin. because in its silence it is entirely exposed to possible misreadings and misinterpretations. as if the poet were putting into effect his i818 declaration of commitment: "shall learn Greek . among them. "Keats in his new mood was not prepared to confine himself to Greek philosophy as formerly" (John Keats [Harmondsworth: Penguin. "there can be no doubt of the ultimate Greek source of the phrase. J. not only his interest in theoretical issues." books which "harked back to his religious and philosophic discussions at Oxford with Bailey. 431-32).'8 The Dacier translation does not include the Phaedrus. 193-94). Such passages indicate. 691-92."' above all as a "passionate quest for certainty. / Conquer all mysteries by rule and line. 17 Walter Jackson Bate. Gittings observes that in this statement Keats does not refer to the traditional "philosophic poets" such as Dante.'7 and also that "he had already given Severn a list of books he would like. 1937]. James takes the view that "Keats never placed reliance on philosophy." Gittings proceeds to assert. and in other ways prepare myself to ask Hazlitt in about a years time the best metaphysical road I can take" (L 1:274). the Principle of Beauty.

21 The contradiction between "intellectualism" and "enthusiasm" is much more pronounced. Eighteenth-century aesthetics can be interpreted. To extend (as Plato does in the Ion) the enthusiastic line of interpreters magnetized . born into a tradition of empiricism and himself a sceptic (as Plato was). must have guided his attention to the work of thinkers who had grappled with his central concern-the problem of beauty and truth.23Anthony Ashley Cooper." Yet his own conflicting impulses. 'Ideha The former through its Aristotelian systematization underlies the Neoclassical theory of poetry as ideal imitation. common. would suggest the group's affiliation with its contemporary empirical philosophy. 45). Keats. as a splitand "Epwc.. Almost without exception these writers psychologized the Platonic Idea. were alien to the this-worldly and empirical-minded theorists of English neo-classicism. thoughtfully"-in fact "dialogically" (55). Bialostosky takes the division of Western poetics into either Platonic or Aristotelian as the structural premise of his argument. Abrams puts it. which makes of the Neoclassical doctrine of "ideal imitation" a conjunction of empiricist and Aristotelian elements. which recognizes "Wordsworth's affinities with Plato's poetics of speech" in contrast to Coleridge's allegiance to Aristotle's poetics of imitation. in that poetic appreciation lies in its "philosophic" reception: "the reader must read it dialectically. and empiricized the method of achieving it" (TheMirrorand the Lamp:RomanticTheoryand the CriticalTradition [London: Oxford University Press. Investigating the problematic relation of content and form. 23 Don H. perhaps. 1984].."20 To return from ends to beginnings. As M. exalted mood. "the metaphysical implications of this manner of thinking .E. and his search for an answer to ontological and aesthetic problems that empiricism refused to take seriously. The eighteenth-century literary tradition looked suspiciously upon any unusual intensity of consciousness. 22 The emphasis placed by the poets of the Neoclassical school upon the conceptualistic nature of truth.22and the second in its Neoplatonic transformation is the basis of Shaftesbury's rhapsodic poetics. in the realm of literary studies than in the area of empirical philosophy.2 ting apart of the two fundamental Platonic notions. Thus the so-called "ideal theory" tends in the direction of "Locke's conceptualist theory of abstract ideas" (Roy Park. the "noble author 20 Oonagh Lahr."' Keats-Shelley Journal21-22 (197273): 18. and the definition of the ideal as that which is generally observed. is a child of the contemporary cultural climate in refusing to accept any axiom "unless proved on the pulses. 19531. diction. "Greek Sources of 'Writ in Water. I think. as an imaginative chimera to be restrained by logic. "'Ut Pictura Poesis': The Nineteenth-Century Aftermath. critically. and universal. and rhythm is effected (Making Tales: The Poetics of Wordsworth's Narrative Experiments[Chicago: University of Chicago Press. or apocalyptic pitch. Bialostosky undertakes to show that Wordsworth's poetic system is analogous to Plato's "classic formulation" in the Republic. Earl of Shaftesbury." Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 28 [1969]: 162). 11-13).where the division of music into the three categories of subject. H. Douka Kabitoglou 121 love of ancient Greek literature has appropriately enough found its way together with the sculpted lyre onto his very tombstone. rather than with the transcendental idealism of Plato.. Bialostosky proposes Wordsworth's treatment of the poetic effect on readers as a corrective to Plato's critique of poetry.

"24 is the third English philosopher after Bacon and Cudworth to receive this appellation. See Ernst Cassirer. through Shaftesbury to the Romantics and beyond." PMLA 38 (19231:175-76). 1953)."29 Is Shaftesbury's aesthetics empiricist or Platonist in its origins and repercussions? Critical opinion." depending on which aspect of his theory is highlighted. 30 Harris. 94. 26 A Historyof ModernCriticism. [Shaftesbury] became nevertheless one of the founders of the new subjectivism."30 Cassirer's fundamental proposition is that "aesthetics is not a product of the general trend of English empiricism. 28 Louis I. 1748). 27 "The Importance of Shaftesbury. he is also defined as "a loose thinker who eclectically combined elements from Stoicism. "Shaftesbury on Art: The Rhapsodic Aesthetic. so far as I know. as we see. 1955). 139 (cited in Evans. affirms that in his writings Shaftesbury "hath shown how largely he hath imbibed the deep sense. 1750-1950. and in some ways a good Platonist. 25 By Herder. Another contemporary. 29Robert W. Geddes. 1714-1780 (London: Blandford Press. trans." one could trace the importance of dialogue from its original r67roc. Tuveson establishes Locke as "the fountain head of the two great schools of thought about the mental life": "the romantic psychology and ethics inaugurated by Shaftesbury. is divided."28 The "contrary strands" of thought in his "aesthetic speculations" make Shaftesbury "a man not to be easily categorized. Warburton."25Although he is presented by Rene Wellek as the main originator of the Platonic tradition in the eighteenth century. Alderman in "The Significance of Shaftesbury in English Speculation. Bredvold."27 Shaftesbury's Platonism has also been put under question on the basis of his individualism. but by a power divine "transmitting the attractive force from one into another. Ernst Cassirer and R." ELH 20 (1953): 278. . 115). who discerns a "close connection of Shaftesbury's theory with Locke's epistemology. W. in his Essay on Composition(Edinburgh. 24 The equivalence to Plato is attributed to Shaftesbury by J. Harris place him within the Platonic tradition."26 Wellek's statement may be supplemented with one from Ernest Tuveson. neo-Platonism. Uphaus. 1968)." and the "Hartley associationist school. to be looked upon as "Europe's amiable Plato. and the new empiricism. and how naturally he could copy the gracious manner of Plato" (cited by William E." ELH X (1934): 107. James P.122 Philosophyand Literature: JohnKeats of the Characteristics. our British PLATO. Volume TheLaterEighteenth i: Century (New Haven: Yale University Press. The Platonic Renaissancein England. Pettegrove (Austin: University of Texas Press." Journalof Aestheticsand Art Criticism27 (1969): 341. "The Tendency toward Platonism in Neo-Classical Esthetics. but the first. 199. Harris maintains that his "argument on the nature of beauty and truth is traditional Platonism and is at variance with the empiricism which governed his earlier argument. 106-7. Reason and Nature in the EighteenthCenturry. although "possibly the most Hellenic mind of the half-century before Winckelmann and Lessing. the Platonic text.

man ventures "to tread the Labyrinth of wide Nature." which "is not abstract and dialectical. 32 The Philosophyof the Enlightenment. which have little to do with proportion" (Wladyslaw Tatarkiewicz. and the "dialectic" as a procedure whereby the mind or soul explores itself. and in the expression of the emotions. 315. Opinions. Supreme Creator" (Ch 2:345-46).E. "The Great Theory of Beauty and Its Decline. and abundance." but also "SovereignMIND"." Journalof Aestheticsand Art Criticism31 119721: 174). he believes.. through the phenomenon of beauty. a language in which the meaning of this truth. 1964)."32 Shaftesbury seems to be involved in an unresolved questioning of whether beauty is a sensuous or a supersensuous experience. 33Ch = Characteristicks Men. in vitality. picturesqueness. paperback reprint." British Journal of Aesthetics 12 (1972): 252. "maintaining that beauty actually consists in the absence of regularity. A. Koelln and James P. 2nd ed. is. this. his "inward colloquy" may be seen as the meeting ground between the Lockean 31 The Platonic Renaissancein England.. Fritz C." in the "Abyss of DEITY. Boston: Beacon Press. its real logos. 1714. and what is at once both Beautiful and True. Cassirer discerns a strong "imitation" of Plato in the style of Shaftesbury's "Moralists. while establishing boundlessness and formlessness as the source of form-a contention that is unacceptable by Platonic standards but is a characteristic feature of Neoplatonism. of 34 It is important to note that the "Source and Principle of all Beauty and Perfection" at the same time the "Immenpresents a paradoxical integration of opposites-being sity" where "all Thought is lost."35 Shaftesbury employs Plato's "dialogical" method as a textual principle. which might be broadly described as Platonic or organicist. 3 vols. is first completely revealed. Such is a view developing into Romantic aesthetics. divided against himself. Douka Kabitoglou 123 of English Platonism". it is no longer inaccessible. condemns this model as signifying "the Birth of Order from Confusion" (Ch 2:342).3' he emphasizes Shaftesbury's conviction that empirical beauty is a "material symbol" for metempirical truth: "The truth of the universe speaks. Times. as it were.trans. . Pettegrove (1951. Manners. through the voice of the rationalist Theocles contending with the emotionalist Philocles."the "impowering DEITY. and whether the beauty of Nature "is only the faint Shadow of that First Beauty" (Ch 2:395). but rhapsodic and hymnic". of consequence. is TRUE. Entering into a kind of mystical ecstasy where not only thought but imagination is left behind. nious and Proportionable. constitutes a revival for modern times of "the original force of the Platonic doctrine of Eros" (198). Agreeableand GOOD" (Ch 3:18283). The ative intelligence-makes statement that "all Beauty is TRUTH" (Ch 1:142) is often quoted as demonstrating the philosopher's vindication of aesthetic form: "That what is Harmowhat is BEAUTIFUL is Harmoniousand Proportionable.33 His solution to the problem of aesthetic form as both effectand cause-beauty as the object of sense. 197-98. "Shaftesbury and the Aesthetics of Rhapsody. but acquires a means of expression. 35 Pat Rogers.34 Such is "the Shaftesburian version of reality. Shaftesbury. Shaftesbury has completely divorced beauty from form. and beauty as crebeauty either sensible or intellectual.

Following the consensus of critical readings. Caldwell strongly supports the view that Keats's equation of truth and beauty." and second. 167-73. Shakespeare has also been suggested as a possible source for the questionable alone discover'dand acquir'dby this diviner Part. 1971). .' " Solomon. the Platonic metaphysics of "know thyself. "a sure link with Shaftesbury at this time comes from a letter in which Keats tells Reynolds that he and Bailey are reading Hazlitt's Round Table"."-" Attempting to solve the other debate. 37 For an extensive treatment of the question. "Shaftesbury was prominent at this time among the authors recommended by the Oxford faculty for close study." Harry M.vol. 19401. are the quotes there?" he questions emphatically." that of William Hazlitt ("Beauty is Truth . CA: University of California Publications in English. 131-32). i (Berkeley. then. "The Truth about 'Beauty' and 'Truth': Keats's 'Ode on a Grecian Urn." can be traced to a "definite system of aesthetics." he concurs that "both reason and grammar indicate that not only these five words but the entire final two lines are given to the urn." and the Neoplatonic aesthetics of divine Beauty: it shou'd appear from our strict Search." 8 The implication is that Keats's source has been Shaftesbury 36 "Shaftesbury's Characteristicsand the Conclusion of 'Ode on a Grecian Urn. in turn. whose general thesis recognizes Shaftesbury's formative influence on the writing of the poem. Shakespeare. Solomon argues in his essay on the possible presence of Shaftesburian overtones in the conclusion of the "Ode on a Grecian Urn.'" Keats-Shelle lournal 24 (1975): 95-96. and the Uses of Paradox. no. (ClI2:426) "There are at least two clear ways. 92. ." "in which Keats could have been urged to the reading of Shaftesbury while he visited Bailey at Oxford".when it inspects It-self. 8. . that there is nothing so divine as which belonging not to Body. about "who says what to whom at the end of the 'Ode. James R. particularly his Sonnet ioi with its line "Both truth and beauty on my love depends" (Stuart Peterfreund. first.' Milton. see "Appendix III: Who Says What to Whom at the End of Ode on a GrecianUrn?"in Jack Stillinger. far from "philosophically amateur.the critic adds that "the author of the Round Table.the only Objectworthyof it-self.124 Philosophyand Literature: JohnKeats epistemology of self-examination. argues that "the quotes are not intended to set apart the speech of the urn from the monologue of the poet. TheHoodUwinking Madeline of and Other Essays on Keats'sPoems (Urbana: University of Illinois Press." Keats-Shelley journal 35 [19861:75-82). seems to have been profoundly influenced by his reading of Shaftesbury. then offers the radical proposition that "the solution to our textual dilemma is something that has never been suggested before": the quotation marks indicate that "Keats is quoting not the urn but another author who is the source for the phrase enclosed in quotes." Five Studies in Literature. . *38 Solomon.nor having any Principleor Existence BEAUTY: except in MINDand REASON. Why.

a poem. was the three octavo volumes of the Characteristics. . Shaftesbury refers to urns specifically as examples illustrating "those symmetries which silently express a reigning order. 'Nothing. his knowledge is spoken as remembered knowledge. Keats explores the relation of beauty and truth in a manner that. 'affects the heart like that which is purely from itself. In his discussion of interpretation as anamnestic recognition of presence (or "as the recovery of at least the illusion of 'presence'") Anthony J. forgetfulness. it is the urn's silence that elicits the poet's speech. as we have seen. peace.' " 41 But I am running my head into a Subjectwhich I am certain I could not do justice to under five years s[t]udy and 3 vols octavo-and moreover long to 39 Solomon. Solomon maintains. as concerns imagery. olo. divine. and of course Platonic aesthetics. in his view it is Plato's treatment of poetry as "representation of someone's words" rather than imitation of action. and beauty!"39 The critic concludes his proposition by stressing that his objective has been to establish the influence of one of the major eighteenth-century philosophers on Keats.. allows for moments of "ecstatic insight" in Keats's poetry in a confrontation between the poet/speaker and a "silence" that can be regenerative." Moreover. sheds some light on the notorious crux of the poem's conclusion. not to overt influences and borrowings. This lesson of philosophy. 97. I believe.' Shaftesbury had written . . . It is easy to believe that the impetus of the discussion . Harding. 41 Solomon. the turn of characters and even the proportions and features of a human mind.E. Addressing the problem specifically with reference to the "Ode on a Grecian Urn. and nearly two years before the writing of the "Ode.. For all beauty is truth." he emphasizes the urn's allegiance to death and argues that "the urn can validate the Apollonian equation" of beauty and truth only by transcending mortality. Solomon claims that "Keats is writing to Bailey as though he is continuing a discussion or resuming an earlier discussion on the same subject. or a play may teach us. dramatic and narrative modes (Making Tales. . Douka Kabitoglou 125 in his declaration "All Beauty is Truth. but to an "intertextuality" which permits interactions not easy to detect or possible to account for. not discovered knowledge" (98-99). such as the beauty of sentiments.40 Two months after the visit to Oxford. which by focusing on the speaker or speaking voice underlies the Platonic division of genres into the lyrical. emphasizes the normative importance of diction in what he calls the Platonic poetics of speech. paradoxically. I take this opportunity simply to draw attention. 40 Solomon. by intriguing "the poet to 'remember' or recognize what the urn represents. 95. once more. and the Self-Doubting Interpreter in Keats's Poetry. . Bialostosky." in a letter to Bailey that appears to continue unfinished conversations and to probe into inconclusive arguments. Silence." Keats-ShelleyJournal 35 [19861: 85-86). 13-15). and creative-or conversely impotent and deathly. harmony. and failure ("Speech. citing Ch 2:270-71. thus intimating mortality. although divesting the act of recollection of any metaphysical grounding. and of its own nature. even a romance. . the grace of actions. diction.

That it is authentic suggests that the imagination is separable from the imagining subject. . Mysteries.. doubts." when "man is capable of being in uncertainties. far from being accidental. . Robert M.138-39) and "caught from the Penetralium of mystery. the mind becomes the receptacle of "Shapes of delight. 0 I wish I was as certainof the end of all your troublesas that of your momentarystartabout the authenticityof the Imagination.' the 'penetralia. / And view the glory of their festivals" ("ToMy Brother George. The Poet's eye can reach those golden halls. As Keats puts it.126 Philosophyand Literature: JohnKeats be talking about the Imagination." 11. .I am certainof nothing but of the holiness of the Heart'saffections and the truth of Imagination-What the imaginationseizes as Beauty must be truth-whether it existed before or not-for I have the same Idea of all our Passions as of Love they are all in their sublime.."and imagination is not only the common substratum (NwoKEiM?vov)underlying both. "When these enchanted portals open wide. Beauty and truth appear as categorial aspects. having an objective. creativeof essential Beauty. which he saw . (L 1:184-85) If this letter is looked upon as an early version of an aesthetic/ontological problem that occupied Keats's attention for almost two years before it received its definitive form in the conclusive lines of his ode. of mystery. and wanted but the eye of Revelation to see clearly into the mysteries of Christianity." 11.' the inmost recesses of Truth.42 42 The biographical context of the theory of "negative capability" is again Keats's seminal visit to Bailey at Oxford in 1817. a cohesive substance or a bridge that allows the trafficking between conditions that have often been considered contrary and incompatible. and fear. illustrates the basic distinction that I have just made between the autonomous reality of Imagination and the human mind. under a different scheme.' He appears to have picked up the Latin word (incorrectly) from Bailey: note its use-and the connection with religious mystery-in the following passage from a letter Bailey wrote in 1818: "Plato had 'the vision and the faculty divine. The specific point made here is the "authenticity" of the imagination-imagination as genuine and factual. but imagination. autonomous and subsisting reality sui generis-occupying the plane of an intermediary of images (an in-between orYEradv position in which. one could locate the Platonic ideas). without any irritable reaching after fact & reason" (L. but also a middle term..' He looked into 'adyta. / Passing along before a dusky space" ("Sleep and Poetry. 1:193-94). predicates of the imaginative "act. Ryan maintains that "one indication that Keats's criticism of Coleridge has to do with religion is his use of the phrase 'Penetralium of Mystery. I think Keats's capitalization of the word "imagination" on certain occasions but not on others. we realize that the central issue is neither beauty nor truth.33-36).

advantage of such an encounter. ." the experience "denotes a particular kind of mental impressionrather than an actual immersion of the ego in the non-ego. "Sympathetic Imagination." As he applies the term to Keats. silent forms. In his differentiation between "sympathy" and "empathy. Ford. is that enough self-awareness is retained by the participant/spectator of the event to guarantee both the retention and reproduction of the experience ("Empathic Imagery in Keats and Shelley. Fogle. 45 This is Lotze's view as reported by Richard H." Bate probes the origin of the second term in the German doctrine of Einfuhlung developed by Hermann Lotze. thus "the imagination perceives as the reason cannot." PMLA 61 [1946]: 163-91. Douka Kabitoglou 127 The truth of imaginative insight for Keats seems to lie in a total abandonment of the categories of observer/observed. Ford cites the poet's expressions such as "self-destroying" and "I forget myself entirely" as attempts to describe "imaginative projection" (479-82). as "empathic. and 'The Poetical Character. "the involuntary projection of ourselves into the object. together with Plato and many other thinkers." he says. meaning precisely not the perception of a thing's true nature. were simultaneously present in Keats's philosophical "obstinate" questionings. but is captivated by the immediate content of consciousness in intensive concentration. "The ego. when the identity of the observer as thinker and discriminator is dissolved. 168-69)."43 The quality of the imaginative identification." Such "focusing of all forces on a single point" creates "the shadowed in the twilight" (Keats: The Religious Sense [Princeton: Princeton University Press. the fundamental reality and inner working. Empathy.E. "Keats. 145-46). Discussing the "protean history" of the term "empathy. loses itself in it. and consequently the distance or barrier between subject/object is collapsed." it loses itself in the aesthetic object. 1976]. however.'" SP 45 (1948): 477.' " 45 A possible reconciliation of the two conditions-also illuminating the crucial role of "intensity" in Keatsian aesthetics and Platonic ontology-may be discerned in Ernst Cassirer's exposition of "mythical thinking": it depicts a state of mind whereby thought does not move freely over perceptual data. in Fogle's the view. it is highly probable that Shaftesbury. 43 Bate."44 or an intense "awareness of our own sensations" that are projected or attributed "to 'alien. quotations from 164." in that "we attributeour own feelings to beings which we cannot knouw". "is spending all its energy on this single object. who argues that through empathy." 44 Newell F. As "sympathetic. And whether the ambiguous phrase in the same letter." Ford recognizes the difficulty of providing a definition and allows the label to be "fairly precise" when taken to anticipate what has come to be known as "ego-projection. but "the unconscious attribution to it of qualities and responses known and felt by the imagination itself. lives in it." 145." does actually refer to the voluminousness of Shaftesbury's Characteristicsor not. the peculiar 'truth' and nature of its object. and the displacement of "self" into "other" may bear an ambivalent character." contact between subject and object is achieved "without the loss of identity. has been a matter of critical dispute. "This pursued through Volumes.

Wordsworth'sPoetry 1787-1814 (New Haven: Yale University Press. 48 Harding. or at least beyond the control of the conscious mind. 1946). truths once he remembers to remember them. Johnston." Drawing on Johnston's discussion of Wordsworth's "A Night-Piece. Sherry is responding to Geoffrey H. Harding seems to resolve the contradiction of sympathy/empathy raised above (although he does not at all pose the problem in these terms) by drawing the distinction between self and other along the line of consciousness: "Some knowledge that lies outside the mind. 32-33." adding that "for Wordsworth. Susanne K. 2-4. significance" (Wordsworth's 49 Sherry. Languageand Myth. when. 1972). "the moment when the truth that we know already. . the tension finds release. . easily translates into the model of conjunction/disjunction employed in Sherry's discussion of Wordsworth. it is generated in the soul and at once becomes self-sustaining. and through their recollection raise them once again to conscious Poetry of the Imagination. as for Socrates. like a blaze kindled by a leaping spark.128 JohnKeats Philosophyand Literature: utmost tension between the subject and its object. Harted. 47 Plato's Letters(VIl." to the extent that the entire self becomes "possessed": "Then the spark jumps somehow across. in the subject itself and of close companionship. Geoffrey H. Harding claims. in Hamilton and Cairns. "resembles the moment of anamnesis" in Platonic terms. anamnesis is a form of r04membrance enabling man to perceive certain permanent. even eternal."47 For Keats. CollectedDialogues. trans. but have not been permitted to recall. . and confronts the mind as a god or a daemon."48 It is in the mind's "excursive power" across the normative frontiers that Sherry (following the arguments of Geoffrey Hartman and Kenneth Johnston) places the visionary locus in Wordsworth's poetry. established above as fundamental in Keats's poetics. Hartman. 1964) and Kenneth R." 46 Plato employs the same metaphorical apparatus to render the dialectical procedure as a process of gaining intimacy-and its objective as the knowledge of a thing's "idea" or "thinghood": "Acquaintance with it must come rather after a long period of attendance . Langer (New York: Dover Publications.49 The binary opposition of empathy/sympathy." Sherry argues that in the poem's vision of man. Charles Sherry sustains a similar distinction in his reading of Wordsworth's "Immortality Ode" as "a conscious recollection of an unconscious memory. such is the onlooker's absorbing attentiveness to its object (of Grecian art) in "On Seeing the Elgin Marbles"-an experience which. floods into the mind and transforms us".. 84." in New Perspectives Coleridge man (New York: Columbia University Press.6-7). 341c-d). as the subjective excitement becomes objectified. "mind 46Cassirer. on Idiom of Vision. if we replace the terms "self" and "other" with "mind" and "nature. eds. suddenly. brings creative power out of seeming passivity. "The and Wordsworth.

of heaven and earth become intelligible? This is to ask the question concerning the nature of the relationship of the divine to the mortal. in vision. 11. it signifies the mind's "presence to the movement of manifestation of those original wholes in which things are gathered up in their kinship" (io). in the sense that "the image is the original" in announcing the original. to apprehend the original that shows through it. yet distinct from one another.'"50 Sherry adds that to interpret the visionary experience as a mere mental "excursion" into the sensuous conceals "the divine character of the power of the imagination. defines it as "the movement of the soul correlative to that movement of manifestation in which a whole becomes manifest through an image. but also establishes. Affirming that "the structure of the manifestation of being is one of imaging" (179). an alternative mode of showing whereby "what shows itself shows itself wholly"(395). as the 50Sherry." he affirms." Not satisfied with what he calls the "visual limits to vision" set by Johnston. 3. . The vision is 'simultaneously disjunctive and conjunctive.E. Recollection is founded on the non-immediate manifestness of the original wholes to the human soul" (91). in the process of examining the character and structure of recollection." Sherry maintains. In this fundamental sense. of course. to Wordsworth's poetry. "recollection is a mediation between whole and parts" and is dependent upon the human capacity "to apprehend an image as an image. What is conjunctive in such an act of perception? Upon what basis or ground can this conjunction. He quotes from Johnston. Sherry insists on questioning further the precise nature of the conjunction of mind and nature: "The act of perception. the infinite to the finite. 3-4. Douka Kabitoglou 129 and nature are seen as appropriately fitted to each other.John Sallis. This game of hide-and-seek that beauty (and truth) seems to be playing with the human mind fascinates Plato so much that he writes in a stylistic mode in which "imagery" plays a dominant part. 51 Sherry. referring specifically." in that "the ground of the imagination's relation to the divine and infinite remains obscured and we see the imagination only as a shaping. letting it become manifest while at the same time concealing it (419). Sallis discerns a certain bond of unity between the traditional terms of image and original. "tells us nothing of the underlying reason why a thing is perceived as visionary or not. Such is the anamnestic vision which presents visible things as intelligible." 51 In a subsection called "Recollection and Imaging" of his chapter on the Platonic Meno. that is. excursive power acting in conjunction with nature. and the One to the Many. In other words.

488a). to talk about "the Imagination. and uncapitalized imagination becomes the mind that serves as its host. the terms are reversed: Beauty (also capitalized) is a substitute for Imagination (the autonomous Presence). Plato's iEwpt'a of the Idea of Beauty is ultimately closer to a Sensation than a Thought." a desire which "issues in a making of images. "does 52 The aggressiveness implied in the verb suggests more nearly the Platonic "hunting after truth" than the Wordsworthian "wise passiveness." 11.52 and this experience. As Sallis notes. but in the creative activity-"the Beautifying. "Socrates has desire. "This doctrine. There follows an interesting appearance of the word "Idea" coupled with "Love. is truth (not an illusion)-or "must" be truth." more specifically about "the authenticity of the Imagination. Consciousness "seizes" upon Beauty/Imagination. is the really Beautiful" (Ch 2:404)mirroring Plato's contention that love is the lover and not the beloved (Symposium 204a-e). "These wonders strange he sees. or a waking dream?" The next phrase in the letter. I believe. not the Beautify'd.e. too." and he is convinced of the "truth of Imagination" (L 1:184): in all three cases. "whether it existed before or not. locates beauty not in "thing" or finished product.. Keats "longs. That the experience of essential Beauty is not "abstract" (i. perceptual beauties. As Keats affirms elsewhere. a mental body. not only for each thing as it is (for originals) but also for images. Whatever the precise nature of the creative process. Here Keats seems to waver between the dogmatic ending of the "Ode on a Grecian Urn" and the sceptical conclusion of the "Ode to a Nightingale": "Was it a vision. but none the less as real as a physical body. conceptual) is clear in texts of both Plato and Keats. The next "imagination" in the text is not capitalized: "What the imagination seizes as Beauty must be truth. Keats contends. that the Beauty referred to cannot be the familiar." Cassirer observes.53-54). and many more." . in my opinion. the intensity or passionate heating of consciousness is viewed by Keats-and Platoas the necessary basis for envisioning Beauty." and then comes the peak of the letter's argument: Love creates (essential) Beauty.130 Philosophyand Literature: JohnKeats protagonist of his philosophical dramas. a speaker who "strains after imagery" (RepublicVI." makes manifest." Here. Socrates suddenly becomes an image-maker" (399). / Whose head is pregnant with poetic lore" ("ToMy Brother George. Shaftesbury. Imagination is referred to as an almost magical begetting of Images-the notion of the Image being that of a Body." he says.

. Plato offers a detailed description of the process of attainment as "fever. the "movement up to the divine banquet" by way of the memory of having seen the truth of being "as a gathering. finally. 1. or intensity: "And so. definitely begins with perception and sensation. "for beauty alone this has been ordained. or love. it is only Beauty Plato argues." and "stepping from rung to rung"-or. the physical object that mirrors metempirical beauty and arouses the seeker's desire for retracing the steps to that forgotten experience is the human (male) body." This process results in the final "possession" of beauty-rendered metaphorically as a "releasing" of waters. Platonic Renaissance.198. he is almost within reach 53 54 Sallis. to be most manifest to sense and most lovely of them all" (25od). it is "Socrates' erotic relation with Phaedrus which lets the recollecting logos about the beautiful originate" (155).E. 143-53. The recollective procedure. Of all transcendent Ideas. Ladder-climbing and seafaring are Plato's objective correlatives for embodying the human experience of "fellowship with essence" (Endymion." A similar pattern is traced in the Symposium. Douka Kabitoglou 131 not derive from empiricism or sensualism. as a collecting of many into one" 5-this process is marked by an unmistakable sexual imagery and undertones of "jouissance." and "painful irritation. when his prescribed devotion to boyish beauties has carried our candidate so far that the universal beauty dawns upon his inward sight." "there bursts upon him that wondrous vision which is the very soul of the beauty he has toiled so long for" (21oa-211c). as Sallis puts it." "shuddering. as Keats would put it.799-800)-becomes "the lover of every lovely body" and then of "spiritual loveliness. The initiate into the "mysteries of Love" is instructed to "fall in love with the beauty of one individual body. a "pleasure that is sweet beyond compare" (251a-e). led "by degrees. the "suchness" or idea of beauty-a process which all along is propelled by sexual desire." "until at last he comes to know what beauty is". it is born rather of Platonic enthusiasm." as Plato depicts it in the Phaedrus."53 The quest for "beauty. "turning his eyes toward the open sea of beauty. / To the chief intensity" (Endymion.779). that grants us "so clear an image of herself to gaze upon". For Plato. activated by a dim reminiscence of those prenatal days in "the plain of Truth" (248b). or passion. 1. when "Beauty it was ours to see in all its brightness" (25ob).

" before "it arrives at that trembling delicate and snail-horn perception of Beauty" (L 1:265). from their being in close relationship with Beauty & Truth" (L 1:192). so does Plato. As he explicitly says earlier in this dialogue. What Plato hints at here is that the quest for beauty is not an end in itself. he repeatedly admits to "the yearning Passion I have for the beautiful" (L 1:404). which has all the pathological symptoms of birth. "capable of making all disagreeables evaporate. but changing his metaphorical terms from "consummation" to "parturition. such is the intensity of impassioned perception that it becomes the presupposition of Art. for . because he knows that beauty's tenant will bring his travail to an end" (2o6d-e). in that "The mighty abstract Idea I have of Beauty in all things stifles the more divided and minute domestic happiness" (L 1:403). my unhappiest days and nights have I find not a(l)t all cured me of my love of Beauty. while retaining throughout the Platonic conjunction of "love" and "beauty. Remaining still within the sphere of human sexuality. and recognizes the destructive process that intellect undergoes in "havens of intenseness. but for the conception and generation that the beautiful effects" (2o6e). to reach completion. when the procreant is big with child. he is strangely stirred by the beautiful." he attributes to beauty the role of midwifery (a favorite notion with Socrates) and looks upon it as a stimulator that helps to bring release from the "painful burden. making aesthetics the presupposition of ontology. or rather obliterates all consideration" (L 1:194). confesses that "All my thoughts." In his letters. And if Keats commits the anti-Platonic heresy of declaring that he can never "feel certain of any truth but from a clear perception of its Beauty" (L 2:19). but a means. but made it so intense" (L 2:126). Beauty is presented as the condition that allows a rebirth process. acknowledges an alternation of ecstasy and pain that sends him wondering "the more at the Beauty which has kept up the spell so fervently" (L 2:263). affirms that "every mental pursuit takes its reality and worth from the ardour of the pursuer" (L 1:242).132 Philosophyand Literature: JohnKeats of the final revelation" (2ilb-c). humbly avows allegiance to "the Principle of Beauty" of all things in existence (L 1:266). endorses the sublimity of solitude. certifies that "with a great poet the sense of Beauty overcomes every other consideration. desire or longing is "not for the beautiful itself. Keats's confession "1 feel assured I should write from the mere yearning and fondness I have for the Beautiful even if my night's labours should be burnt every morning" (L 1:388) transposes the aesthetic issue of creativity from ontology to poetics." to conclude the labors of birth: "And so.

"55a proposition which not only allows for an identification of beauty and truth. as we have seen. The Fateof Reading. A somewhat different attitude detects in Keats's conception of "essence" a similarity to the Aristotelian Idea rather than the Platonic. In fact it is a commonplace at least as early as Plato. NY: Comell University Press. . physical beauty (i. with approval or disapproval. Plato provides a dual answer that almost copies Keats's chiastic structure: "the good . "Romance and Reality: Continuity and Growth in Keats's View of Art." ELH 21 11954]:217). apart from mind or object" (Charles I. 211b). or. Douka Kabitoglou 133 whom beauty is truth. . but establishes a statement where the positions of subject/predicate are interchangeable? The selfreflexive phrase may indeed suggest that the poet's speculation is circular. arrived at the conclusion that beauty and truth are one. Martha Hale Shackford maintains that "from Spenser's hymns to Beautie and Love Keats had . For Plato. 163). the human body) trig55 That the ending of the "Ode" might carry Platonic echoes has been recognized by a number of interpreters. and Keats. while Plato's Idea is an absolute in itself. "Moreover. this equation is not original with Keats. 144. . have even been an obstacle to singleminded enjoyment because the apothegm pronounced by the urn sounds to some ears like a rather empty Platonic cliche" (Albert Gerard.' or Content vs. . 56 Geoffrey H.E. "Passion and Permanence in Keats's Ode on a GrecianUrn. John Keats'Fancy [Ithaca. Shaftesbury. . 216d). even if he did not know the favored passage from the Symposium which seems to imply that the higher truth leads to the higher beauty" ("The Ode on a GrecianUrn. The connection between passionate intensity and the experience of beauty is a common element in Plato. is beautiful" (Lysis. and it falls on the ear already resonant with echoes of traditional meaning and half meaning" (James Ralston Caldwell. . in that it "exists either in close relationship with an object or in a mind. each serving as the other's attribute and appropriately holding either the position of subject or of complement.. that "Beauty is true" and "Truth is beautiful"-that both have a substantive and a qualitative character. To the skeptical interrogation whether "beauty is the cause of good" (GreaterHippias. Hartman. in that "the good has taken refuge in the character of the beautiful" (Philebus. 452e). To return to the overwhelming question which has been looming over our discussion: how Platonic is Keats's proposition at the end of the "Ode on a Grecian Urn. "subsisting of itself and by itself in an eternal oneness" (Symposium." Keats-Shelley Journal 11 [1962]: 26). Spitzer surmises from the urn's message that "the Platonic equation 'beauty = truth' alone is precious knowledge. I believe. Metagrammar." Keats-Shelley journal 4 119551:13)." ComparativeLiterature7 119551: 217). Other readers recognize the possible indebtedness of Keats to Plato. . it indicates.e. Patterson.and Other Essays (Chicago: University of Chicago Press.64e). 297b).5 but even more. and for that reason discard both philosopher and poet as pedantic and vague: "The concluding lines of the ode . but also the beautiful is defined by the good (RepublicV. 1975). in contrast to historical erudition" ("The 'Ode on a Grecian Urn. Leo Spitzer contends that "Keats in the nineteenth century believed that the beauty and truth of the transcendental idea is revealed 'on earth'". 19451.

"Keats's aestheticism. beauty is something beautiful. that Keats's beauty is empirical. in its final stage.e. we have witnessed the mechanics by which he describes passion generating beauty. nor Beauty "material" for Keats. "is related . but he was a magnificent materialist" (John Middleton Murry. that "neither beauty nor truth is for Keats a real abstraction."which possesses a "double Beauty": "For here is both the Form (the Effectof Mind) and Mind it-self" (Ch 2:405-6). . who maintained that "if we come to the poem without preconceptions. and attributes the root of the evil to Plato's intellectualization of truth. Raymond Benoit affirms the radical difference between Greece and the modern world. Press. Nezwand Old. he main- . The common denominator in all three authors is that beauty is reached in a process of enthusiastic intensification. 342.97). a Platonic Idea. it is the "Formitng Form.134 Philosophyand Literature: JohnKeats gers an inner system of energy (i. 60The central argument that rejects the possibility of Keats's having borrowed his aesthetics from Plato rests upon the assumption. . 1o8.3 (1979): 33. 2nd ed. to both parties: Idea is not "abstract" for Plato.and post-Platonic Greek reality models-Plato seen as the transitional medium where this radical transformation took place: "Truth for us. whose ascent.60 What is overlooked by critics who entirely reject the Platonic register in Keats's beauty/truth identification is that the transmitter of the message is a Grecian urn. or something else inhuman which approximates it. 1937). a "regular stepping of the Imagination towards a Truth" (L 1:218) that leaves all the senses behind-"every sense . . W. brings the lover to the vision of that beauty (EKEVo rTOKaAov). Norton and Co."57 As for Keats. Mythology and the RomanticTraditionin EnglishiPoetry (New York: W. or that the one is concrete. we cannot fail to see" that Keats's beauty is "a spiritual value which endures" ("Orthodoxy Concerning Keats. . . the urn cannot but speak "platonically" because it is the product of the same culture6l-a culture whose vases 57 Uphaus. as we have seen. "Out of the context 'Beauty" is Abstract Beauty..671-72).' "9 do injustice. He introduces into his argument the celebrated distinction that Heidegger effects between pre. [London: Oxford University." Kenyon Review ns 1. 19391. and parades in the fine dress of Initial Capitals. or."58 And statements like the following. For Shaftesbury. to his discovery of a new kind of spirituality in the intensity of beauty. grown / Etherial for pleasure" (Endymion." PMLA 43 [19281:1143)." as has been suggested. as Martin Heidegger has argued . "'A Recourse Somewhat Human': Keats's Religion of Beauty. . In the context Keats clearly has a specificbeauty in mind" (Royall Snow. is a matter of the mind. love represents for Shaftesbury a "permanent link with Platonic thought. and certainly. love). whereas Plato's is metempirical. I believe. 58 Ronald Sharp. but it was not so. This position provoked an immediate critique by Mary Evelyn Shipman. the 'material sublime. Studies in Keats. "Heresy Concerning Keats." PMLA 44 [1929]: 929). whereas the other is abstract: "He might have made a poor Platonist. 61 In a very interesting essay. 59 Douglas Bush.."or the "HumanForm. 2.

" should be examined in terms "of the tensions resulting from his union of disinterestedness with its more or less Platonic superstructure. 15).and was made use of by the Philosopher [Plato] whom the earliest Christian Fathers call'd Divine." 63Keats. Shaftesbury's testimony is relevant: "SOMETHING there will be of Extravagance and Fury." an aesthetic stance towards reality. it has been observed.65 tains. 64 Quoted in Ford. the real living spirit of the past. . this "mode of attention and perception peculiar to the aesthetic experience ..62In modern times. seems to be making an imaginative leap to origins. . White proposes that "Shaftesbury's unique contribution to contemporary aesthetics. he does so only to make it clear that he wishes above all to give human passions and creativity the same status which essential ideas have in Plato" ("In Dear Detail by Ideal Light: 'Ode on a Grecian Urn.. ." Journal of the History of Ideas22 (1961): 197." Benoit continues. . Sallis dramatically foregrounds those "most overwhelmingly decisive transitions in that movement away from the Greeks."64 "Hovering . Keats may have sensed that there isor has been-a possibility of their correlation. however. . on "the Greek spirit. to express whatever was sublime in human Passions" (Ch 1:53). In the RepublicPlato made truth intellectual for Western civilization after him whereas before it was a matter of manifestation: what exists reveals itself and that revelation is truth. between an exquisite sense of the luxurious and a love for Philosophy" (L 1:271). for Greek culture before Plato." so "essentially modern" as "an immortalyouth. Furthermore. "was anxiously trying to get behind or before Plato even while using the Platonic vocabulary he inherits. 65 This and the following series of quotations in the same context come from L 2:8081. that constituted the course of Western thought" (Being and Logos. the Religion of Joy . Douka Kabitoglou 135 as well as philosophical treatises are characterized by a "Fairattitude. when the Ideas or Images receiv'd are too big for the narrow human Vessel to contain. So that Inspiration may be justly call'd Divine ENTHUSIASM: For the word it-self signifies Divine Presence.-the Religion of the Beautiful.e. Prefigurative Imagination.. "'Beauty': Some Stages in the History of an Idea. . having reached a state of mind simultaneously sensuous and intellectual whereby he could "relish them properly. was first explicitly recognized by Lord Shaftesbury. disinterestedness. reported by his friend Severn." emphasizing the "metaphysical overtones" of aesthetic perception ("The Metaphysics of Disinterestedness: Shaftesbury and Kant. 62 Contrary to what is traditionally believed about the Greek "logocentric" dominance in the formation of the sensibility and intellectual history of the West. 63 Jerome Stolnitz. While Keats does posit two different realms. David A." Journalof Aestheticsand Art Criticism32 [19731:239-40). as becomes apparent through conversations in Rome. 'that incarnateDelight' . . ..E. i. .'" Costerus3 119721: 2). Certainly Keats. . ." Keats repeats these Grecian lines from Milton: How charmingis divine Philosophy Not harsh and crabbedas dull fools suppose But musical as is Apollo's lute. In a letter to George and Georgiana Keats.105-6. which transforms our accustomed ties to the world. To the first line quoted from Milton. .

what Keats calls the "instinctive course" of the "human animal. "reasoning[s]" that are "fine. in subverting complacency and self-gratification. "Keats's 'Negative Capability' and 'Disinterestedness': A Confusion of Ideals. As he maintains earlier in the same letter. Guilhamet. because they have together reached a level of shared imaginative vision that not only results from-but extends far beyond-individual systems of philosophy and schools of poetry" (The CreativeImagination:Enlightenmentto Romanticism [Cambridge. just as philosophy becomes poetic." see Leon M. and a common role. in disturbing the security of habitual consciousness." is "the very thing in which consists poetry." he then exclaims." Bostetter's essay at best brings into focus Keats's equivocal attitude toward philosophizing." Journalof Aestheticsand Art Criticism16 [19581:362-72) cites Keats's admission that poetry is "not so fine a thing as philosophy" to confirm his view that "Keats has sharply separated beauty and truth. For a summary of the dominant views on the relationship between Keats's terms "negative capability" and "disinterestedness. 67 James Engell places his discussion of Keats alongside that of Goethe." University of TorontoQuarterly40 (1970): 2-14." Keats acknowledges." This.67 Aristotle University of Thessaloniki 66 Edward E. Guilhamet attributes the origin of the ideal of disinterestedness to Shaftesbury (13). MA & London: Harvard University Press. The textual context of this conjunction of the passions and the mind brings together the "disinterested" heart of Socrates. beauty and truth share a common origin.11 For Keats. Bostetter ("The Eagle and the Truth: Keats and the Problem of Belief. 279)." Keats's own striving (as he puts it) "to know myself. endorsing the view that in both cases the "poetry of experience becomes philosophic. in the intensity of impassioned awareness." and his assertion that "there is an ellectric fire in human nature tending to purify. yet it represents humanity's-and Keats's own-striving for philosophical disinterestedness. 19811." Poetry "is not so fine a thing as philosophy.136 Philosophyand Literature: JohnKeats "Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced. ." or poetry and philosophy. Emphasizing the poet's freedom "from any metaphysical and ethical responsibilities" and indifference to "whether any ultimate answers are revealed to him or not. "The great and powerful (whom you call wise and good) do not like to have the privacy of their self love startled by the obtrusive and unmanageable claims of Literature and Philosophy" (L 2:73).

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