Anticipations of Kant in Coleridge's Rime of the Ancient Mariner

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Immanuel Kant’s moral philosophy resonates in the works of one of the most important Romantic writers in history, Samuel Taylor Coleridge. In chapter one of Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason (1793), Kant diagnoses the human race as being radically evil; they raise selfish incentives of desire above the moral law. Kant also expresses that the human race cannot extirpate themselves of radical evil because they are frail, impure, and perverse. Samuel Taylor Coleridge, a follower of Kant, seeks to remedy Kant’s diagnosis of radical evil in his works Aids to Reflection (1825) and Rime of the Ancient Mariner (1798) by suggesting that the “human will,” when tempered by Reason, awakens mankind’s spiritual mind and safeguards him from sin. This thesis closely examines the first chapter of Kant’s Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason in order to familiarize readers with Kantian arguments and key terms. The thesis then examines the similarities between Coleridge’s Aids to Reflection and Kant’s Religion. These similarities make a Kantian interpretation of Rime possible, which is the heart of this thesis.