online: 29 august 2003

16 august 2003 what is thinking?

14:48 Copied onto my handheld in the British Library from S T Coleridge's Shorter Works and Fragments, page 399 selected by chance process:
...The phrase 'motive'has likewise been much abused by the philosophical Necessitarians, as if motive were a Thing,that by impact communicated motion, instead of being a mere generic Term. For what is a motive, but a determining Thought? and what is a Thought but the mind thinking in this or that direction? and what is thinking but the mind acting on itself?* A motive therefore = the mind in the act of self-determination: and thus the whole machinery that was to batten down Free Agency proves to be a definition of Free Agency.**

*This thought (of a mind thinking of itself, and thus being or making its own reality, and perhaps any), arising so casually yet so exactly and so beautifully in the course of writing a note about something else, is what led me to make this half-paragraph the substance of today's entry.

Coleridge wrote it partly in the margin of a printed page and partly on a separate sheet of paper, in March 1815 (the year in which he completed his central workBiographia Literaria, aged 43)

23:00 And another remark (about the nature of thought and of everything) that I cannot resist copying out:

...reality is a thing of degrees, from the Iliad to a dream.***
One of the last recorded remarks of S T Coleridge, written, or spoken, when he knew he was dying... How I like the inclusion of all realities, no matter how hard or material, between these extremes of public epic and individual dream.

** Shorter Works and Fragments, edited by and , Bollingen Series, Princeton University Press, New Jersey and Routledge, London 19 [data missing} page 399.

*** Quoted by Richard Holmes in Coleridge, darker reflections, HarperCollins Publishers, London 1998, from The Table Talk of Samuel Coleridge [I don't yet have the complete reference].

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