Coleridge and the Ambulatory Imagination

May 25, 2017

Bruce Baugh

Thursday, May 25, 6:30PM–8:30PM, Room 7000, SFU Harbour Centre

Sponsored by SFU's Institute for the Humanities

In the most poetically productive part of his life (1797-99), Samuel Taylor Coleridge walked extensively and daily through the hills and combes of the Quantocks, in Somerset, England. Walking was an indispensable part of his poetry: his walks through the countryside not only brought him into close proximity to nature, but unfolded over time according to a rhythm joining one step to the next. Both poems and walking are inherently temporal phenomena, generating their own syntheses of past, present and future. In both cases, the parts of the poem or walk are guided by a vision of the whole that transmutes the details and gives them a new significance. This is the work of the poetic imagination, which derives from the transcendental imagination’s power of synthesizing sensory impressions into a coherent whole. Coleridge’s poetic imagination is necessarily embodied: it mediates between concrete sensory experience and regulative Ideas of the Whole, between passive receptivity and active thought. I explored this hypothesis by walking the Coleridge Way in 2013.


Bruce Baugh is a Philosophy Professor at Thompson Rivers University specializing in modern French philosophy. He is editor and translator of Existential Monday: Philosophical Essays (NYRB Books, 2016) by Benjamin Fondane and the book, French Hegel: From Surrealism to Postmodernism (Routledge, 2003). He is currently working on a book on walking and philosophy that will deal with walking and philosophers and poets such as Martin Heidegger, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Descartes, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Friedrich Nietzsche, Andre Breton and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. His most recent articles include “Deleuze, Guattari and Bergson on the Open Society,” Deleuze Studies (Summer 2016); “The Art of Good Encounters: Deleuze, Macherey and Spinoza,” in Christine Daigle and Terrance H. McDonald (Indiana University Press; forthcoming); “Private thinkers, untimely thoughts: Deleuze, Shestov and Fondane,” Continental Philosophy Review Volume 48, Issue 3 (2015): 313-339; “Tom Flynn on ‘dialectical nominalism’ and the ‘mediating third’,” Sartre Studies International (Fall 2015): 13-24; “Actualization: enrichment and loss,” in Karen Houle and James Vernon, eds., Deleuze and Hegel (Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 2013), 76-96; “Jean Hyppolite and French Kierkegaard,” Pli: The Warwick Journal of Philosophy vol. 24 (2013): 40-68. In October 2014, he gave the key-note address to the annual meeting of the Canadian Society for Continental Philosophy, “Questioning the presuppositions of Western Metaphysics: the Critique of Reason in Deleuze, Fondane and Shestov.”