The Soul in British Romanticism: Negotiating Human Nature in Philosophy, Science, and Poetry

The aim of the present study “to describe the historical development of the discourses on the soul, and, on the other hand, to investigate the close connec- tion between the soul and the genre and medium of poetry” (11) stands as an ambitious task. As a consequence thereof, the hybrid variety of discourses on the concept of the soul at times evokes the impression that ‘soul’ describes a rather imprecise umbrella term for all sorts of things: transcendence, the principle of life, pure reason, the brain, the self, to name but a few. Of course this fleeting character of the concept of the soul is not Haekel’s fault, and the forte of the book is thus to accept precisely this challenge of delineating the contours of a term so widely used in Romantic poetry. The book should not only be of great interest for scholars in the field of Romanticism, but also for anyone interested in key ques- tions in late 17th to early 19th century metaphysics and epistemology.


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