Coleridge’s Misreading of Spinoza

  • Stanley J. Spector


Henry Crabb Robinson characterized Coleridge’s peculiar attitude toward Benedict (Baruch) Spinoza (1632–1677) fairly accurately in a diary entry from 1812, where he described the following encounter with Coleridge:

In the course of a few minutes, while standing in the room, Coleridge kissed Spinoza’s face at the title page, said his book was his gospel, and in less than a minute added that his philosophy was, after all, false. Spinoza’s system has been demonstrated to be false, but only by that philosophy which has at the same time demonstrated the falsehoods of all other philosophies. Did philosophy commence in an IT IS instead of an I AM, Spinoza would be altogether true; and without allowing a breathing-time he parenthetically asserted: “I, however, believe in all the doctrines of Christianity, even of the Trinity.”1


Active Nature Adequate Idea Infinite Attribute Passive Nature Divine Love 
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  1. 1.
    Edith J. Morley, ed., Henry Crabb Robinson on Books and Their Writers (London: J.M. Dent, 1938), 1:112.Google Scholar
  2. 5.
    Lore Metzger in her “Coleridge’s Vindication of Spinoza: An Unpublished Note,” Journal of the History of Ideas 21 (1960): 279–293.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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© Sheila A. Spector 2005

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  • Stanley J. Spector

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