The Drama of Reason
Chapter 4: F. H. Bradley and the ‘way of apprehension’
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F. H. Bradley and the ‘way of apprehension’
In the notes accompanying his lecture on T. H. Green in the Leeds archive, Hill transcribed a passage from Dorothea Krook’s study Three Traditions of Moral Thought:
The best [philosophers] … are, like the best poets, a perpetual threat to the conventional distinction between the abstractness of philosophy and the concreteness of poetry. For they give us, so intensely, the sense of being in touch with the concrete, indeed of never having lost touch with it, but only of having, as Coleridge says, generalized the particulars of experience, and generalized in such a way as to involve ultimately no loss of particularity.1
For Hill, Green’s ‘exemplary failure’, and that of his contemporaries, was not only to encourage this loss of particularity in an oceanic expansiveness, but to mistake poetry for the royal road to this expansiveness. Whereas Wordsworth, for example, was seen by A. C. Bradley as the poet of boundlessness, his real virtue (as ‘Resolution and Independence’ shows) lies in the faltering and inarticulate. A lecture by Hill from 1971, headed ‘Romantic Poetry – COLERIDGE’, gives another example of this quality in Wordsworth.2 Hill begins with a discussion of ‘She Dwelt Among th’Untrodden Ways’ and ‘Old Man Travelling’. The latter in particular, Hill claims, has a kind of determinate hesitancy:
The little hedge-row birds,
That peck along the road, regard him not. He travels on,...
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