Moral Philosophy: Sympathetic Identification, Utility and the Natural History of Religion in <i>The Fall of Hyperion</i>

Porscha Fermanis

in John Keats and the Ideas of the Enlightenment

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print September 2009 | ISBN: 9780748637805
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748652181 | DOI:
Moral Philosophy: Sympathetic Identification, Utility and the Natural History of Religion in The Fall of Hyperion

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This chapter investigates the relationship between John Keats' representation of the poet-figure and theories of moral philosophy in The Fall of Hyperion. It begins by addressing the extent to which Enlightenment theories of moral philosophy inform Keats' own ideas about human understanding and moral judgement. It then explores the sociological frameworks that formally structure The Fall. It also considers the relationship between beauty and utility in Shelley's Defence of Poetry and Adam Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments. The Fall moves beyond the rhetoric of tragic suffering in the sense implied by the term ‘sentimental history’ so that sorrow and suffering become not only the dominant tropes of the poem, but also its central themes. It ultimately proclaims the adequacy of visionary experience and the poetic imagination as a vehicle of social reform by refuting the argument that poetry is divorced from truth and reality.

Keywords: John Keats; The Fall of Hyperion; Shelley; Defence of Poetry; Adam Smith; Theory of Moral Sentiments; Enlightenment; moral philosophy; social reform

Chapter.  14119 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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