13 Pages


WithMark J. Bruhn

The question of William Wordsworth's philosophical formation has long exercised criticism, with definite answers notoriously hard to come by, mostly because, as one commentator justly observes, in his greatest philosophical passages Wordsworth is metaphysically, and even epistemologically, the most elusive of poets. It is important to underscore Wordsworth's early investment in this mathematical form of transcendental dualism and acknowledge its significance for his developing thought. Especially when Wordsworth scholars, following larger trends in the human sciences, are increasingly prone to emphasize and valorize Wordsworth's representations of the embodied and environmentally situated mind. In Wordsworth's somewhat belabored terms from the Preface, "thoughts", which individually are "general representatives" of "past feelings", are further developed in their "relation to each other". Wordsworth offers this brief exemplum of the "self-taught" geometer as an analogy for his former and sometime "studious" self. Little wonder, Jane Worthington Smyser concludes, that Wordsworth appropriated Descartes' dream of poetry-inspired philosophical election and ultimately made it his own.