Shelley and Philosophy

Anthony Howe

in The Oxford Handbook of Percy Bysshe Shelley

Published in print December 2012 | ISBN: 9780199558360
Published online January 2013 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

 Shelley and Philosophy

More Like This

Show all results sharing these subjects:

  • Literature
  • Literary Studies (19th Century)
  • Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)


Show Summary Details


This chapter discusses the philosophers who influenced Shelley's works. Shelley, for instance, was influenced by Plato's metaphysics, political science, and poetics; he often redeploys, in his poems and images, ideas taken from his deep study of the philosopher's writings. He was also interested in the French materialists, of whom he read Laplace, Condorcet, Volney, Cabanis, and Holbach, the latter of whom he translated in the summer of 1812, and seems to have been particularly influential. Shelley quoted Holbach' radically anti-Christian masterpiece Système de la nature (1770) at length in the notes to Queen Mab, but perhaps the most important philosopher of all for him was David Hume. Shelley's polemical Essay on a Future State draws heavily both on Hume's scepticism and his psychological account of belief.

Keywords: Percy Bysshe Shelley; philosophers; Plato; Holbach; David Hume

Article.  8181 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (19th Century) ; Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.