Bloody Speck: Coleridge at the Heart of Dynamic Theories of Life and Matter

Peter Cheyne (Shimane University)


Please note: this is an incomplete first draft and Section 4 is little more than notes and quotations that give an idea of what the section will look like. A reference and very basic introduction to some themes in the project have been provided in an article at Aeon magazine, ‘Coleridge the Philosopher‘.


Bloody Speck: Coleridge at the Heart of Dynamic Theories of Life and Matter

1.1 The Dynamic Theory of Matter

There is a large and important group of idealist thinkers from various schools and periods for whom matter is real but not basic. These thinkers hold matter, and subsequently organic life, to be derived from powers and forces, conceived as energy or spirit, with life as one of its eventual consequences. Engagement with their theories reveals the fascinating topic of how certain philosophical idealists, who hold ideas to have ontological precedence to matter, actually conceive and theorize material being. This paper will present a constellation of theories in the thought of Samuel Taylor Coleridge; namely, the theory of the arising of matter from the opposition of physical, pre-material forces; the elevating circulation of energies in life and mind; and the co-option of the notion of the incipient heart as a punctum saliens (a leaping point along a line of blood) to a metaphysics of emergent evolution. These theories will be contextualized with reference to philosophical speculations in Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz and Immanuel Kant, … etc., etc. The term ‘dynamic’ will primarily refer to power or force (dunamis) both within matter and as its foundation. As various theories of opposition (mathematical, physical, psychological, etc.) hold, stasis can in fact arise from, and in some theories, can only arise from, the effect of opposed forces.

Coleridge formed a theory that he described as ‘the very rudiments of a “Heraclitus redivivus”’, expounding his commitment to the idea of the interpenetration of opposite forces, whereby everything in nature arises in their interplay, manifesting an original unitary power, the attraction towards the resemblance of which being what drives evolution and human history. In this view, matter and phenomena are at once irruptions and temporary stabilizations, impermanent and fluxional equations of the cosmic forces of polar opposition.

It is peculiar to the [dynamic] Philosophy . . . to consider matter as a Product—coagulum spiritûs [a coagulation of spirit], the pause, by interpenetration, of opposite energies—and . . . I hold no matter as real otherwise than as the copula of these energies, consequently no matter without Spirit . . . [1]

Around the same time, in ‘Theory of Life’, and generally following Schelling, he specifies that he sees ‘the construction of matter’, that is, its theoretical account, often geometrical, transcendental, and dynamical, ‘as the product, or tertium aliud [third other thing], of antagonist powers of repulsion and attraction.’[2] Elsewhere, he asks, ‘what is Matter but, the synthesis of its essential component Powers, Attraction and Repulsion?’[3]

He attributes this theory of matter as coagulum spiritus, or the congealing of opposed energies or spiritual powers into a relative pause, to Leibniz. Although I have not found in Leibniz any term suggestive of ‘coagulum spiritus’, perhaps Coleridge had in mind Leibniz’s theory that everything actual, possible, or expressible could be rendered in binary code, i.e. in the combination of two fundamental and oppositional elements, ultimately referring to divine creation ex nihilo. Or he might have intended Leibniz’s more dynamic theory—one which Coleridge applied to constructive geometry[4]—of the monads being formed by ‘continual fulgurations of the Divinity from moment to moment’,[5] that is, by emanation in constant ‘lightning flashes’ from God.

Leibniz has been described as ‘the first great protestant against the new metaphysical orthodoxy’, opposing the Cartesian cum Newtonian notion of ‘a vast clock-like machine, set in motion at the beginning by the Creator and thence running merely by operation of its own secondary causes.’[6] His dynamicist essays ‘Specimen dynamicum’ (1695) and ‘De ipsa natura’ (1698) are key works of his mature physics. ‘Specimen dynamicum’ comprehensively summarizes his ‘new science of dynamics’ on the anti-Cartesian principle that:

corporeal things contain something other than …, indeed … prior to extension, namely the force of nature implanted in all things by the Creator … this force … constitutes the inmost nature of bodies. For to act is the mark of a substance.[7]

In this work, he distinguishes between vis viva, active or living force, and vis mortua, dead force, which his twentieth-century translator interprets as equivalent to kinetic and potential energy.[8] Vis viva is essentially motion, energy in action, and is force capable of producing change through motion. Vis mortua, on the other hand,is an as-yet inactive tendency toward vis viva, and is accordingly ‘only a solicitation to motion, such as that of … a stone in a sling … while it is still held by the string … and also the force of heaviness … and the force by which a stretched elastic body begins to restore itself’.[9]

Regarding Coleridge’s attributing to Leibniz of the theory of matter as the pause or coagulum of spirit brought about by the interpenetration of opposed forces, it is possible to construe a vague adumbration of this view in the Leibnizian binary distinctions, oppositions, and theories just mentioned. Yet, none of this translates clearly into the claim that matter arises from the interplay of opposed forces. Even this last-described dynamic theory, where Leibniz distinguishes between living and dead force, is not the dynamics of synthesis through opposition that Coleridge requires, for Leibniz holds vis viva to be produced by an infinite accumulation of vis mortua, rather than through their opposition.

However pertinent the Leibnizian binary, fulguration, and dynamic theories, the most direct explanation for Coleridge’s attributing the theory of matter as the coagulation or equilibrium of opposed powers to Leibniz comes from, I suggest, his reading in Kant the argument that Leibizian:

physical monads are … to be conceived as pointlike centres of attractive and repulsive forces, where the repulsive force, in particular, generates a region of solidity or impenetrability in the form of a tiny ‘sphere of activity’ emanating from a central point.[10]

Synthesizing the physics and the metaphysics of the previous half-century, Kant’s Physical Monadology (1756)introduces the fundamental, opposed forces of attraction and repulsion into his explanation of how matter can be conceived in its simplest parts as immaterial points surrounded by a field of repulsion, explaining solidity in general and the impenetrability of the monadic elements, with attraction explaining gravitation around a point. Kant proposed his dynamical theory as a reconciliation of the Leibnizian theory of matter as composed of simple elements, or monads, with the Newtonian objection that if space is infinitely divisible, the monads would have to be divisible too. Kant’s dynamic solution affirms monadic points as non-spatial of centres of spatially divisible regions of repulsive force. A continuation of this line of thought, where matter exists or arises in the balance of opposition, can be found in his ‘Attempt to Introduce the Concept of Negative Magnitudes into Philosophy’ (1763), where he argues for a dynamic rather than a merely logical opposition, whereby:

real opposition, is that where two predicates of a thing are opposed to each other, but not through the law of contradiction …[11]

Kant’s dynamical theory of matter extended beyond his pre-Critical concerns, as he further develops it in his Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science (1786). Here, the dynamical theory of points and forces describes the intersection of the mathematical and the physical in an anti-atomistic reconciliation of the a priori divisibility of space and the impenetrability of minute packets of space.


According to G. W. F. Hegel, Kant:

never penetrated to the discovery of what the antinomies really and positively mean. … [namely,] that every actual thing involves a coexistence of opposed elements. … [so that] to comprehend an object is equivalent to being conscious of it as a concrete unity of opposed determinations.[12]

However, Coleridge at least recognized that Kant had in fact arrived at a theory of material objects, and, primarily, matter itself, as arising from opposed forces. From this important theory, and stepping, with Schelling, beyond Kant’s stance at the threshold before the thing-in-itself, Coleridge developed a dynamic idealism where existence arises and evolves in the interplay of oppositional powers. For Coleridge, the interplay of opposed forces itself arises as an expression of unitary powers, the correlates of noumenal ideas, that become imperfectly actualized through the evolution of natural and human history. Because universal and eternal noumenal powers and ideas cannot be expressed in their essential unity in a finite, temporal form, their expression appears instead as opposite and interdependent forces. According to this dynamic idealism, these forces from which matter and material forms arise are actualizing energies and not merely potentialities or logical possibilities. Hence Coleridge’s is a dynamic philosophy in that it views the physical world within a metaphysics of powers and forces (Gk: dúnamis).

In this view, ‘ideas’ are potencies, or powers, that become actualized in nature and history and continue to exert an ‘idealizing’, directing influence on human minds through reason, whether more or less directly or through aesthetic sense under the sway of imagination guided by reason. These ideas have an equivalence to powers, and Coleridge defines then such that:

For the Understanding, an Idea can only be described negatively—as that it is super-sensuous, ιδεαι [ideas] in opposition to ειδωλα [images (idols, likenesses)]; that it is not merely formal but dynamic—πᾶσα Ιδεα Δυναμις [every Idea is a Power]. (Statesman’s Manual, 61 fn)

Like Plato’s,[13] Coleridge’s idealism does not refute the existence of matter. He argues, instead, that ideas and powers precede material existence. Since the twentieth century, physics has grown closer to dynamic, energic theories of the matter, and has abandoned the mechanist, corpuscular theories that were dominant in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Compared with Enlightenment expressions of materialism and mechanism, dynamicist theories from Leibniz to Hegel, prefigured in thinkers including Jakob Böhme, seem nearer to the view of modern physics, insofar as both see matter as the interrelation of opposed energies. According to Max Planck, for instance:

As a man who has devoted his whole life to the most clear-headed science, to the study of matter, I can tell you as a result of my research about atoms this much: There is no matter as such. All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent spirit. This spirit is the matrix of all matter.[14]

Rather than wrongly dismiss the dynamic idealists and their various theories as apparently denying matter, it should be recognized that they were almost prepossessed with the problem of its origin and nature in energy, whether cosmic dýnamis, divine spirit, or some sense of mind. For this reason, dynamic theories of matter and the metaphysics of powers might help to make further inroads into the ‘hard problem’ in the philosophy of mind, namely, the ontological question of how there can be consciousness at all. This problem lies behind a current revival in theories of panpsychism, arguing that some organisms can have self-consciousness because all matter is in some elementary sense already conscious.[15] Dynamic idealism could rival or expand this approach by commencing not from matter plus some quality (primal consciousness), but with matter as itself arising from fundamental powers, its quantitative extension evolving from the qualitative intension of powers, as the Logos, in Coleridge’s phrase, ‘whose choral Echo is the Universe’.[16] The eventual realization of consciousness in living organisms would then be theorized as the actualization of fundamental powers as ‘ideas’, in the sense of intellectual potencies, as has been suggested by thinkers from Plato, Plotinus, and John Scotus Eriugena to Schelling, Hegel, and Coleridge.

1.2 Matter, Things, and Relations

Coleridge argues for a metaphysics in which the products of opposed, synthesizing forces are only relatively stable ‘things’, being material stabilizations and phenomena that arise from the interpenetration of opposed forces that manifest unitary powers. As he says in his ‘Theory of Life’,

That nothing real does or can exist corresponding to either pole exclusively, is involved in the definition of a thing as the synthesis of opposing energies. That a thing is, is owing to the co-inherence of any two powers, but that it is that particular thing arises from the proportions in which these powers are co-present . . .[17]

The phenomenal ‘things’ that coalesce from these forces include matter itself,[18] he argues, and are really relations of things, and not ‘the Things themselves’, which are ideas as ‘productive Powers’.[19] For Coleridge, the idea of ‘Life’ goes beyond the mechanical ‘philosophy of Death’, of ‘a dead nature’. For in a mechanical account, all parts add up only to an ‘exact sum of the component qualities, as in arithmetical addition’, whereas:

In Life, and in the view of a vital philosophy, the two component counter-powers actually interpenetrate each other, and generate a higher third, including both the former, “ita tame ut sit alia et major [in such a way, however, that it is different and greater].”[20]

Where mechanical philosophy adds up to a sum, dynamic philosophy interpenetrates, multiplying into its produce, a higher third. The contrast is of the lifeless addition of mechanical aggregation versus the multiplication of interpenetrative generativity, of the separable 1 + 1 + 1 against the powers and exponents of chemical and biological generation and procreativity.

Even the separable things are held in this view as expressions of relations rather than as fundamentals in themselves, so that what one has:

hitherto called Things will be regarded as only more or less permanent Relations … having their derivative reality greater or less in proportion as they are regular or accidental Relations . . .[21]

Historical and phenomenal objects and events can be further explored discursively, by analysis and the study of their relations, in which, Coleridge argues, they ultimately consist. If he is right, then material objects are emergences from the interpenetrative relations of ontologically higher, constituting powers: the products and events of natural, political, and cultural history evolving through oppositional forces. The phenomena and relations are cognizable as the objects of discursive reasoning and analysis, yet they are also, in this view, ultimately related to the noumenal powers themselves. This does not, however, imply that these powers are in turn knowable, in some chain of intellectual transitivity, by discourse and relation. Even in the relation of phenomena and forces to the noumenal powers that they express, these latter remain non-composite, unformed by relations between ontologically prior things, and unknowable through discursion and relation. Thus, the unitary powers, the absolutes, can only be known through a correlating idea in the human mind, and hence known directly, in the mode of being and in the form of mind.

And this is the definition of mind in its proper and distinctive sense, a subject that is its own Object—or where A contemplant is one and the same subject with A contemplated.[22]

In this context, the discursive is that which can only be understood by drawing the attention away from the subject-matter at hand to grasp its constituent relations, before returning to comprehend the subject more fully. The subject-matter is thus known from without, as an object, by an encircling and undergirding knowledge of constituents and relations. The non-discursive, on the other hand, consists of ‘the permanence and self-circling energies of the reason’.[23] The non-discursive cannot be known from without, for it is fundamental, a reality in itself, held eternally, according to Coleridge, in the rational and benevolent will of God. Unknowable from without, and not constituted by relations, the non-discursive is therefore that subject which is its own object. For Coleridge, powers and ideas do stand in relation to the divine mind (and to the finite minds that seek to contemplate them), and are therefore dependent on the being of God, but they are positive essences, ‘living ideas’, and are unitary and simple, and therefore not synthetic, not unified and composite, as opposed to the contingent, usually physical, phenomena that are created from relations and syntheses of prior forces derived from these powers. The noetic, non-discursive is, then, that which is not itself composed of combined or fused constituents, and it can therefore not be analysed but only directly intuited or apprehended. Thus, the absolutes, the objects of noetic contemplation, are for Coleridge the transcendent, constituting conditions and ideals of action and actualization. The absolute, unitary power can only be expressed as opposed forces, otherwise the transcendent power would necessarily remain unmanifest. These forces retain an ideal towards towards unity, as detailed in Coleridge’s definition whereby:

Every Power in Nature and in Spirit must evolve an opposite as the sole means and condition of its manifestation: and all opposition is a tendency to re-union. This is the universal Law of Polarity …[24]

However, they cannot reunite into the originary power yet remain manifest, so the pressure or conatus to reunion within manifestation moves down rather than up, in the emanationist imagery, to become unified as a synthesis. Thus, all the evolving details of the world, in natural history, in law, in culture, in design, creativity, and so on, arise as the working out and concretization of opposed forces that include in their network the currently extant and emerging artifacts from the history of this evolutionary flow. The evolving concretes of history and experience are forced into physical and phenomenal existence by opposed forces, imaging, as attenuated reflections, the originary power that gives rise to those forces. It is at the midpoint, within the opposed, immanent forces at the level of existence and manifestation, yet directed back towards the unitary, transcendent power, which he calls the prothesis or the identity point, from which these forces became manifest, that Coleridge employs a biological metaphor, the pulse and leap of the embryonic heart, to express a crucial moment in his metaphysics.

3. Punctum Saliens: Bloody Speck to Metaphysical Principle

In an essay on Coleridge’s ‘Theory of Life’, covering ‘his discussion of polarity as the deepest law of organic life’ and its ‘universal … tendency to individuation’, the biochemist and historian Joseph Needham separates the electrochemical chaff, which Coleridge gleaned from his Royal Institute attendances to ‘increase [his] stock of metaphors’, from the valuable germs in Coleridge’s ‘anticipation of the idea of Emergent evolution … and his biological Platonism’.[25] Surprisingly, for an embryologist, Needham did not comment on the logico-metaphysical concept of the punctum saliens introduced there, despite Coleridge’s co-opting that embryological term for a metaphysical usage of profound import.[26] In this new, metaphysical sense, the punctum saliens describes the leap from the midpoint or equipoise of opposed poles in the immanent plane of nature towards the transcendent, unified power out of which these forces irrupt. Perhaps, however, Coleridge’s metaphysical use of this key concept in the history of embryology made an impression. Five years later, most likely with Aristotle and William Harvey foremost in mind, Needham writes,

Of all the strange things in biology, the most striking of all is the transmutation inside the developing egg, when in three weeks the white and yolk give place to the animal with its tissues and organs, its batteries of enzymes and its delicately regulated endocrine system. This coming-to-be can hardly have failed, in the minds of those most intimately acquainted with it, to lead to thoughts of a metaphysical character.[27]

Significantly, the earliest identification and observation of the embryonic heart and its first stirrings comes from the father of systematic metaphysics, Aristotle. Aristotle’s meticulous observations of hens’ eggs led to his discovery of what two millennia later came to be termed the punctum saliens in embryological studies by Volcher Coiter, Ulisse Aldrovandi, and William Harvey. Carefully removing the shell of eggs at different periods of incubation, Aristotle discovered that, after the yolk has travelled up to the point of the egg, just after the three-days period, for hens’ eggs, a red spot appears in the albumen and starts pulsing. He correctly identified this as the incipient heart:

ὅσον στιγμὴ αἱματίνη ἐν τῷ λευκῷ ἡ καρδία. Τοῦτο δὲ τὸ σημεῖον πηδᾷ καὶ κινεῖται ὥσπερ ἔμψυχον [The heart is like a bloody spot (σημεῖον: mark, speck, point) in the egg-white.  That point leaps and moves as if alive.][28]

In these studies, Aristotle found it particularly notable that it is the heart which appears first, before all other organs, leading him to locate in it a fundamental centrality and the seat of the soul, diverging from Plato, who judged the brain to be the organ of sensation.[29] William Harvey would later note that because the heart and the blood appear at the same time, then, following the principle that the contained is more precious than the container, it is the blood that is the seat and carriage of the soul, and not the heart. Coleridge disparaged this view, arguing that the claim that ‘Blood is the Life … is saying nothing at all—for if the blood were Life, it could never be otherwise than Life’.[30]

Due to its easy access, the development of the bird’s egg, especially that of the hen, became a classic model in embryology that is still widely used today for research and teaching. Aristotle’s descriptions in the fourth century bc and further advances made in the Hippocratic corpus (e.g. correctly identifying the heart as a muscle),[31] were taken up by medieval authors, such as Albert the Great, with his Book on the Animals (c.1265). However, it was not until the end of the Renaissance, commencing in the 1560s with the Italian naturalist Ulisse Aldrovandi, that embryology took off on a sustained research trajectory. Aldrovandi’s student in Bologna, Volcher Coiter, continued this work, followed by Girolamo Fabrizi d’Aquapendente, at the University of Padua, and then his famous pupil William Harvey, making increasingly detailed headway and founding a research tradition that ‘can be traced up to the great German-Baltic embryologists of the early nineteenth century and, beyond, to the experimental embryologists of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries’.[32]

In 1653, in his second and last major work, Anatomical Exercitations on the Generation of Animals,[33] Harvey’s was the first use in an English text of the term punctum saliens, directly translating Aristotle’s description. The term was already current, however, in the works Coiter and Aldrovandi. The ‘leaping point’ first observed by Aristotle was important for Harvey in his first published work, the groundbreaking De motu cordis (1628), where he calls it a ‘palpitating …’ and a ‘bloody point’ and contends that almost all animals except the most vegetal have at least this rudimentary heart:

even so in certain animals not destined to attain to the highest perfection in their organization, such as bees, wasps, snails, shrimps, crayfish, etc., we only find a certain pulsating vesicle, like a sort of red or white palpitating point, as the beginning or principle of their life.[34]

Harvey’s captivating description of the beginning of the heart proper concludes chapter 4:

I have also observed the first rudiments of the chick in the course of the fourth or fifth day of the incubation, in the guise of a little cloud, the shell having been removed and the egg immersed in clear tepid water. In the midst of the cloudlet in question there was a bloody point so small that it disappeared during the contraction and escaped the sight, but in the relaxation it reappeared again, red and like the point of a pin; so that betwixt the visible and invisible, betwixt being and not being, as it were, it gave by its pulses a kind of representation of the commencement of life.

With such enraptured prose, it is easy to see Harvey transporting into metaphysical contemplation, perceiving the ‘bloody point’ as ‘the commencement of life’ in the midst of a nebula; an emergent creature that vacillates ‘betwixt the visible and invisible’, contracting and relaxing ‘betwixt being and not being’.

By the end of De motu cordis, where he concludes that the function of the heart is to contract and thereby ‘propel the blood into the arteries’, he states, nonetheless, his:

agree[ment] with Aristotle in regard to the importance of the heart, or to question if it receives sense and motion from the brain, blood from the liver, or whether it be the origin of the veins and of the blood, and such like. They who affirm these propositions overlook … the principal argument … that the heart is the first part which exists, and that it contains within itself blood, life, sensation, and motion, before either the brain or the liver were created or … could perform any function. The heart, ready furnished with its proper organs of motion, like a kind of internal creature, existed before the body. The first to be formed, nature willed that it should afterwards fashion, nourish, preserve, complete the entire animal, as its work and dwelling-place: and as the prince in a kingdom, in whose hands lie the chief and highest authority, rules over all, the heart is the source and foundation from which all power is derived, on which all power depends in the animal body.[35]

In the twenty-three years between his two major works, Harvey’s theory of the circulation of the blood overcame resistance to become generally accepted. By the time he published his founding text of modern embryology, On the Generation of Animals, he still considered the heart central to animal life, but he had shifted his opinion on its significance. In the first work, Harvey, like Aristotle, prioritizes the heart and even ascribes to it the godlike power of inspiriting the body, claiming that:

it is the heart by whose virtue and pulse the blood is moved, perfected, made apt to nourish, and preserved from coagulation and corruption; it is the household divinity which, discharging its function, nourishes, cherishes, quickens the whole body, and is indeed the foundation of life, the source of all action.[36]

But in the later work, he interprets the appearance of the blood before the heart or any other organs as denoting greater worth. Supported by the principle that the received is of greater value than the receptacle, he thus ranks the blood over the heart, which he then sees as a servant to that which it circulates. He now argues:

neither can I agree with Aristotle himself, who maintains that the heart is the first engendered and animated part; for I think that the privilege of priority belongs to the blood alone; the blood being that which is first seen of the newly engendered being ….  the blood is produced before the punctum saliens is formed ….

I hold it as consonant with reason to believe that the blood is prior to its receptacles, the thing contained, to wit, to its container, inasmuch as this is made subservient to that. …

I maintain, against Aristotle, that the blood is the prime part that is engendered, and the heart the mere organ destined for its circulation.[37]

Nonetheless, Harvey still retains for the punctum saliens a foundational aspect:

And this kind of generation is the result of epigenesis as the man proceeds from the boy; the edifice of the body, to wit, is raised on the punctum saliens as a foundation; as a ship is made from a keel …[38]

Nor does his wonder at the genesis of the incipient heart fade in the later work, when Harvey says:

At that time, the foetus in the egg passes from the life of a plant to that of an animal. Then already the limbus or hem of the colliquament begins to turn purple and is outlined with a tiny line of blood, and almost in its centre there leaps a capering bloody point which is yet so exceedingly small that in its diastole it flashes like the smallest spark of fire, and immediately upon its systole it quite escapes the eye and disappears.[39]

Harvey observed that the ‘tiny line of blood’ appears before the leaping point, the emerging heart. This chronological primacy made the blood for him the ‘prime part’ in the transition from vegetal to animal life, the source of ‘innate heat’ in warm-blooded animals, the birds and mammals, and ‘the common bond between soul and body’. He identified the soul in the blood as the transmitter of no less than:

the first cause of all things, by whatever name this has been designated—the Divine Mind of Aristotle; the Soul of the Universe by Plato; the natura naturans by others; Saturn and Jove by the ancient Greeks and Romans; by ourselves … the Creator … of all that is in heaven and earth, on whom animals depend for their being, and at whose will and pleasure all things are … engendered.[40]

Harvey’s sense of religious awe at the import of these observations is remarkable. The Saturnine power, for example, continues an observation made earlier in the book, where he conveys the excitement of seeing the punctum saliens appear ‘like a spark darting from a cloud’.[41]

Harvey is clearly as excited as Aristotle and others at what he sees as the metaphysical implications of these biological observations. Although Aristotle and Harvey both saw great significance in the punctum saliens, Harvey came to view the blood as having greater symbolic as well as chronological priority. His tracking back to the tiny line of blood that hems the colliquament—‘A term used by Harvey for the earliest embryo, from its want of consistence’—[42] was born of empirical observation with the aid of a magnifying lens unavailable to Aristotle. Yet his findings and the terms and theory in which he couched them also suggest a constructive, geometrical metaphysics of the transition to animal life whereby the ‘soul in the blood’ primes the embryonic body through a line of blood for the leaping point to commence circulation, that is, a line propelled by a point into a circle. This tiny line is for Harvey an ensouled, bodily intermediary that advances beyond vegetal growth to the animal pulse, transmitting the universal and intelligent first cause in a transitivity that replicates original creation in microcosm. Before the neo-Platonic intermediary cum Aristotelian telic ‘spirit of nature’ theory was examined and furthered by Henry More, with his ‘hylarchic principle’ that intervenes as a spirit between God and the world, and, more extensively, by Ralph Cudworth with his concept of ‘the Plastick Life of Nature’, the artisanal spirit that enacts divine reason throughout the universe, the Renaissance articulation of the theory was already being resurrected by natural philosophers, including Harvey and others, such as Robert Boyle,[43] who opposed the atheist connotations that arose when extrapolating Cartesian dualism and Hobbesian mechanism. Cudworth cites the ‘Book of Generation’ by ‘the Learned Harvey’. Harvey reasoned that:

as the same intelligence or spirit which incessantly actuates the mighty mass of the universe, and compels the same sun from the rising to the setting … so also is there a vis enthea, a divine principle, inherent in our common poultry, showing itself now as the plastic, now as the nutritive, and now as the augmentative force, though it is always and at all times present as the conservative and augmentative force, and now assumes the form of the fowl, now that of the egg; but the same virtue continues to inhere in either to eternity.[44]

Harvey described what he saw as the plastic and augmentative principle of the universe at work in animal embryos. He observed how a line of blood is the first appearance of the newly generated life. From this line arises a point, which then leaps, apparently pulsing in dilation and contraction as if constantly stirring between being and not being, the pulsation producing the circulation of the ensouled lifeblood. This leaping point becomes the foundation, the ‘keel’ from which the vessel of the body is formed.

In a further train of thought, foreshadowing the specific metaphysical use that Coleridge was to make of the punctum saliens, Harvey suggests that this pulsing, leaping point is formed via a polar dynamic that operating by a contrariety between the alimentary substance of the egg (both the ‘yelk’ and the albumen) and a ‘nonentity’ that is nonetheless a power that operates by ‘abstraction’:

It is clear, therefore, that the chick is formed from the egg, as it were by a contrary, namely the aliment, and as if by an abstraction, and from a nonentity. For the first particle of the chick, viz.: the blood or punctum saliens, is constituted out of something which is not blood, and altogether its contrary, the same subject-matter always remaining.[45]

Finding a rich store of symbolic connections in Harvey’s exciting observations and avowedly universal theories, James Harrington put them to the service of the political and, to a lesser extent, metaphysical imagination. Impressed by Harvey’s vis enthea and the experiments that detailed its workings out, Harrington saw in the dynamics of life a universal, vivifying or energizing power that organizes beyond the individual creature. His theory of the state, expressed in his major work, The Commonwealth of Oceana (1656), drew from Harvey’s new physiology.[46] For Harrington, the principles of this natural philosophy were so general that they applied alike to the circulation of the blood via the pumping heart and to the bicameral Houses of Parliament as enacting an ideal of political deliberation, the connection, therefore, being more than merely a convenient analogy. For him, ‘the parliament is the heart’, with its ‘two ventricles, the one greater and replenished with a grosser matter, the other less, and full of a purer’, together pumping ‘the vital blood of Oceana in a continuous process of circulation’. Oceana was a favourite in Coleridge’s library, and he makes references throughout his writings to Coleridge’s references to Harrington as a luminary of the Anglican Platonism that he identified as ‘the spiritual platonic old England’, whose champions, from William Shakespeare, Edmund Spenser, John Milton, Francis Bacon, with  Harrington, to Jonathan Swift and William Wordsworth, conveyed a profounder though less easily articulated wisdom that had latterly become occluded, although it nonetheless counterbalanced the socially and philosophically atomising forces of the newer, empiricist, ‘commercial G. Britain’ represented by John Locke, David Hume, Joseph Priestley, William Paley, and others.[47] ADD MORE ON COLERIDGE ON HARRINGTON IN THE 1818 FRIEND AND ELSEWHERE, AND MAYBE MORE ON OCEANA.

4. Coleridge’s Punctum Saliens in his Dynamic Idealism

In Coleridge’s synthetic mind, several strands converge into a metaphysical constellation that includes the fulgurations of Leibniz, the Kantian generation of matter from opposed forces, Harvey’s punctum saliens as the power of the new life emerging from a cloud between being and not being, whose pulse of the lifeblood enacts the same form and impulse of the vis enthea that Harrington saw in an ideal of political organization. Often remarked in studies of Aristotle as the first systematic biologist, the connection between biology and metaphysics is clear in the recognition that ‘animals exist, develop, and change in ways more complicated than any other class of thing’.[48]  Beyond this analogy, it is in their shared problems of form and matter, boundaries, and beginnings and ends that the imagination is most profoundly stirred. Writing in a notebook in his sixtieth year, Coleridge suggests such an account of his own intellectual development in his ‘Ladhood’:

about this time [aged c.14], my Brother Luke, or the Doctor, so called from his infancy because being the 7th Son he had from infancy been dedicated to the medical profession, came to town, to walk the London Hospital under Blizard—Dr Saumarez … was his intimate Friend—/Every Saturday, that I could make or obtain leave—to the London Hospital trudged I—O the bliss if l were permitted to hold the plaister, or to attend the dressings …. I became wild to be apprenticed to a Surgeon—English, Latin, yea, Greek Books of Medicine read I incessantly—Blanchard’s Latin Medical Dictionary I had almost by heart—Briefly, it was a wild dream—which gradually blending with gradually gave way to a rage for Metaphysics, occasioned by the Essays on Liberty & Necessity in Cato’s Letters——and then by Theology …[49]

The medical dictionary of Blanchard that Coleridge said he all but memorized was that of seventeenth-century Dutch physician Steven Blankaart. Coleridge owned the Latin edition of 1754, [50] where the entry for punctum saliens reads:

Punctum Saliens, dun ovum grandescit, in interior ejus, tunica amnios dicta, nubecula quaedam comparet, quae sensum crassior evadens, mucosam materiam acquirit, in cujus medio primo ounctum saliens, deinde rude Embryonis corpusculum, ut informis galba, conspicitur: quod indies augescendo majorem perfectionem nanciscitur.[51]

The English text reads:

Punctum Saliens, In the growth of an Egg you see a little Speck (or Cloud as it were) in the innermost Tunick of it, call’d Ammos, which growing gradually thicker, acquires a kind of slimy matter, in the middle whereof you see first this Punctum Saliens, (a little Speck that seems to leap) afterward the rude Body of an Embryo, just like a shapeless kind of Maggot, which tends every day more and more to perfection.[52]

This passage perhaps learned by heart, the ‘little Speck’, which for Harvey pulses ‘betwixt being and not being’, becomes nebulous, ‘or Cloud as it were’, then begins to move ‘in the middle’ of ‘a slimy kind of matter’ and take a more perfect shape emerges in Coleridge’s ‘Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ as the sign of the vessel carrying ‘Life-in-Death’:

Upon the slimy Sea.

….

I saw something …

At first it seem’d a little speck

And then it seem’d a mist:

It mov’d and mov’d, and took at last

A certain shape, I wist.

A speck, a mist, a shape, I wist![53]

The impression arises equally, with Harvey’s and Blankaart’s descriptions of the embryological phenomenon as with the apparition in the ‘Rime’, of a mysterious supernatural power emerging within the natural, and life stirring within the non-alive.

In December 1799, Coleridge was introduced by Humphry Davy to the polymathic London surgeon Anthony Carlisle, who the following year discovered electrolysis with William Nicholson. In the same year, he met Coleridge. Carlisle had earlier studied under John Hunter, whom Coleridge would later claim arrived at a ‘true idea of Life’.[54] In 1804 Carlisle was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society, and in his Croonian Lecture ‘On Muscular Motion’, read 8 November of that year, he argued that the evidence suggested that ‘the rudiments of the punctum saliens’ exist before incubation. He also confirms there that the punctum saliens, ‘during its first actions’, exists before any muscular fibres or the vascular system, with the blood flowing back and forth in the same vessels.[55] From this, Carlisle infers that the commencement of life in complex animals is similar to the ultimate structure of the simpler organisms, the punctum saliens being like a microscopic animalculum, a little creature with an apparent life of its own, as others, including Harvey, have noted. In 1810, Carlisle, whose continued connection with Coleridge is evidenced by his subscription to The Friend in 1809, treated him for opium addiction on the suggestion of Basil Montagu.[56] There is a reasonable possibility that the two would have discussed the punctum saliens. ‘On Muscular Motion’ would certainly have interested Coleridge, and it was read by at least one person in his circle, Robert Southey (a correspondent of Carlisle’s since c.1795), who expressed his obligation on having perused the lecture soon after its publication.[57]

…………………..

Composed and printed in 1815, the first volume of Biographia Literaria showsColeridge still heavily dependent on Schelling. One of the passages in that volume that he lifts from Schelling is: ‘Matter has no Inward. We remove one surface but to meet another. We can but divide a particle into particles’.[58] Yet this statement on ‘dead matter’, useful though it was as Coleridge compiled an argument against materialism, demonstrates a view that was revealed as increasingly one-sided and insufficient as Coleridge pursued the connection of life and matter through his more original developments of dynamic idealism over the next fifteen years or so. In later writings, even as early as The Statesman’s Manual (1816) and the ‘Theory of Life’ (1816–18), Coleridge develops dramatically in the originality of his philosophical thought. This is occasioned by his recognizing the need to reconstruct his ‘ideal Realism[59] without the susceptibility to pantheism that he found both in Schelling and in the German idealist’s sources in Jakob Böhme, whose mystical writings were influential on Schelling, Hegel, and Coleridge, as they posited the arisal and continuous evolution of nature from the interpenetration of opposed divine energies, where primal powers and qualities become manifested in the subsequently arising material and transformational world of extensions and qualities that evolve and transmute the original and intense (non-extended) qualities or spirits.[60]

The following passage from 1828, annotating a volume of Blumenbach, whose lectures on physiology he attended while enrolled at Göttingen University (1798–9), represents Coleridge’s developed view:

To elicit the qualities of matter … which nature … elevat[es] … into organization and manifest vitality … to compel the elementary stuffs to reveal their interior Being, and their finer affinities, is an evident End in the organising process, without reference to which it would be impossible to reduce a multitude of phenomena in the lower orders of Organic Nature to any intelligible connection.[61]

In this later view, far from matter having ‘no inward’, it is an outer manifestation of inwardness and a store of ‘interior Being’. Through evolution via polar opposition in natural history, the material world progressively actualizes the powers through which, according to dynamic idealism, matter arises. The theory is one involution and evolution, that is, of manifestation of the involved, intense reality through dialectic evolution and the emergence of new properties approaching the ideal through complexes of interpenetration, self-referential systems, and mind.

……………….

‘Tetradic Logic’, SWF (1818), unipolar semi-lines on either side of the indifference point are ‘fulgurations’, ‘shooting forth and retracting’ from the point of indifference, producing the bipolar line.

…….

Coleridge saw matter as produced according to the Kantian model, with a Leibnizian heritage, of synthesis and relative pause in the tension between opposed forces. He saw these forces through a post-Kantian, especially Schellingian, lens, as expressing an absolute unity, this being the formula that, as we saw in section 1.1, led Hegel to describe the true meaning of the Kantian antinomies as interdependent and oppositional determinations of a comprehensive and unified reality.

Coleridge, Marginalia, 1: on Franz Baader, Ueber Starres und Fliessendes:

The word matter … is among the most obscure and unfixed in the whole nomenclature of metaphysics, and I am afraid that the knot must be cut, i. e. a fixed meaning must be arbitrarily imposed on the word, as I have done in defining:

Matter as mere videri [seen] <opposed to> spirit as quod agit et non apparet [which acts and does not appear], the synthesis being body. At all events, I would have preferred the terms Quantity and Quality, thus:

Materia + Spiritus = Corpus. Ergo Materia est in corpore: spiritus agil per Corpus. Matter and Spirit are Body: then Spirit (2) re-emerges in moments, as a property or function of Body, but in omni tempore and as the whole per totalitatem immanentem — it is Quality — Spiritus potentialis. Again, Materia ens in corpore = Quantity.

Marginalia, annotating Robert Anderson (ed.), Edinburgh and London (1793–5), where Milton, in Paradise Lost, describes the ‘one first matter all,|Indued with various forms, various degrees|Of substance, and in things that live, of life;

Coleridge comments on this, Raphael’s first speech on prima materia, or the first matter:

There is nothing wanting to render this a perfect enunciation of the only true System of Physics, but to declare the “one first matter all” to be a one Act or Power consisting in two Forces or opposite Tendencies, φυσις διπλοειδης potentialiter sensitiva [a two-fold nature, potentially sensitive]; and all that follows, the same in different Potencies. For matter can neither be ground or distilled into spirit. The Spirit is an Island harbourless, and every way inaccessible. All its contents are its products: all its denizens indigenous. Ergo, as matter could exist only for the Spirit, and as for the Spirit it cannot exist matter as a principle does not exist at all—; but as a mode of Spirit, and derivatively, it may and does exist: it being the most intelligential act in its first Potency.

CHECK AUTHORS IN C’sTIME OR RECENT PAST FOR ‘PUNCT. SALIENS.’

In Aids to Reflection (336), Coleridge notes that, as opposites, ‘Flesh’ and ‘Spirit’ share in a ‘middle term’, Birth, that is ‘common to both’. Birth is thus, he says, ‘the punctum indifferens or nota communis [point of indifference, or note in common], of the Thesis (Flesh: the World) and the Antithesis (Spirit: Christ)’.

The concept of the point, as a speck or node, as something actual and initial, indicates an intersection of biology and mathematics and thus lends itself to metaphysical use. Indeed, on geometrical grounds, since the Pythagoreans and Euclid, the idea of a point producing a line, and from there to three dimensions, is often present in constructivist metaphysics. (Give examples from Plotinus, Kant, Coleridge, esp. Aids to Reflection where C commends Pythagoreans for holding the point that produces a line as transcendent to the line, not an immanent initial point within it.) Aristotle’s observations of the incipient heart pulsing, like a little animal itself (animalculum), in carefully shelled hen’s eggs, led Aristotle to behold this leaping point as the commencement of life in sanguineous creatures. Two millennia later, William Harvey found his own, similar observations to be equally wondrous, although for him, life commenced a stage earlier, with the blood that the incipient heart begins to pump.

C distinguished between the reflective point (Aristotle’s) and the constructive point (Plato’s) Lects Hist Phil, 228 n. 1 and 245. Discuss in terms of immanence (reflection) versus transcendence (construction). Touch on transcendence in the constructivism of the ‘sacred geometry’ of Pythagoreans and Hermeticists?

……………

His mathematical and logical, dynamic philosophical [instead of the four adjectives, write 3 or 4 sentences saying how it is mathematical, logical, and dynamic] sense analogizes the embryological concept. (Maybe add a footnote referencing George Whalley’s essay, ‘The Aristotle–Coleridge­ Axis’, University of Toronto Quarterly, 42.2 (Winter 1973), 93–109, on C’s Aristotelianism; Whalley concentrates on poetics.)

In Coleridge’s logic, punctum saliens, is the positive interpretation, the positive value, of the punctum indifferens, the neutral theoretical point between two opposed forces or qualities. Seen as the indifference point, it is the dead centre, as the punctum saliens, it is the living, leaping point—at the emergence, in ovo, of life in organic matter.

Coleridge C used the term punctum saliens in his ‘Theory of Life’ to imply both the biological and the dynamic philosophical meanings. Mathematically, as well as biologically, where there is a power, there is a root.

………….

From CCP:

The indifference-point for Coleridge is thus the product and subsequent representative of the transcendent ‘Identity’, and not the producer of actuality, as it is for Schelling. This provides an insight into noetic contemplation, for where literalist, imagistic fancy sees the indifference-point as a nullity, symbolic, reason- directed imagination sees the representative of transcendent power in the immanent. Exactly between the two poles, the indifference-point represents the unity of the higher power, which is otherwise polarized across two opposing forces. This dynamic has important implications for Coleridge’s ‘Theory of Life’, where he contrasts the polar ‘equatorial point’ conceived as ‘rest, or mere neutralization’ with the higher view of it from the vantage of reason:

The formula is: A=B+B=A=A=A, or the oneness of space and time, is the

predicate of all real being. But as little can we conceive the oneness, except as

the mid-point producing itself on each side; that is, manifesting itself on two

opposite poles…

To the fancy alone it is the null-point, or zero, but to the reason it is the punctum saliens, and the power itself in its eminence.[62]

What sensation-directed fancy takes as the dead-point of indifference, reason-oriented imagination sees as an immanent point that can leap into the transcendent.

The term punctum saliens (leaping, or salient, point), which Coleridge gives as the higher meaning of the punctum indifferens, derives from human embryology, denominating, in a pertinent connection here, ‘The first trace of the heart in an embryo, appearing as a pulsating point’ (OED).[63]

…………..

Punctum saliens as jettisoning from physis to bios. A point and propellant of evolution from one stage to the next, beyond which properties that had no existence at the lower level emerge, actualizing a higher level of organization.

See Logic (p. 37) where C claims that even if human mental activity does have a neurophysiological basis (implicitly using Hartley’s position as an example), this fact alone could never tell us anything about the nature of higher cognitive functions and the activity of thinking more generally.

………….

Flesh and Blood is … in the mid or balanceding state between fixation and revivescence. … For matter itself is but Spiritus in coagulo; and organized matter the coagulum in the act of being restored, i.e. it is repotentiating. Stop its self-destruction as matter, and you stop its self-reproduction as a vital organ. (Coleridge, Marginalia, 5: 545–6, on Jeremy Taylor)

…………..

Conclusion: the mathematical concept of a point used to explain dynamics in physics was taken in a metaphysical direction by constructivist idealists. The embryological concept and observation of the punctum saliens particularly lent itself, analogically, to metaphysical use, as it is the leaping point, der springender Punkt, where forces or powers intensify, then leap out into extension (a pulse of great significance), as well as carrying all the symbolic connotations of the initial movements of an incipient heart as the tiny animal beating within the new life.

Discuss Schopenhauer on the indifference point and punctum saliens in the conclusion.

Among the countless variants of the punctual analogy none are more persistently recurrent in Schopenhauer’s work than the one drawn from biology. Thus Schopenhauer describes the I as the ‘point of indifference of the two poles’, the Will and the intellect. The I, for Schopenhauer, is symbolized by the ‘point of indifference’ between a tree’s roots and its visible corona, ‘the former struggling into darkness, moisture, and cold, the latter into light, dryness, and warmth’. ‘The root represents the will, the corona the intellect, and the point of indifference of the two, the collum, would be the I, which, as their common termination, belongs to both.’ (3: 236 [WWR, 413, Supplements to the second book). Elsewhere he likens the Will itself from which the I arises to the punctum saliens of all objective reality (9: 343), while particular volitional states are ‘the point at which the thing in itself enters representation in the most immediate way’ (230).

(See Márton Dornbach, ‘The Point Well Missed’, Modern Language Notes, 124.3, German Issue: Emotionality (April 2009), 614–37)

31 Dec 1796 letter to Thelwall

The “capability of being stimulated into sensation” … is my definition of animal life.

Coleridge held to the etymology of the word nature, natura being the future participle of nasci, ‘to be born’.

Natura, that which is about to be born, that which is always becoming.

Aids to Reflection, 251.

……….

Include this:

Not . . . lifeless technical rules, but life-producing Ideas, which shall contain their own evidence, are essentially one with the germinal causes in Nature … (Lectures on Literature, 2: 222 (10 March 1818, London Philosophical Society, Fleet Street)

……..

‘the lower nature is taken up into and made to partake of the higher’ (‘Essay on Faith’ [1820], Shorter Works, 2: 842)

A year or so later:

All goodness is refluent, circular in its movement still as it revisits its own source, leaves nothing behind but what is incapable of elevation. And what it cannot elevate, it strengthens and improves. (Opus Maximum, 149–50)

…..

Add to Section 1?

Compared with Enlightenment expressions of materialism and mechanism, such theories seem nearer to the view of modern physics, insofar as both see matter as the interrelation of opposed energies. This dynamic theory of material existence could well provide a viable alternative to current theories of panpsychism as approaches to the ‘hard problem’ of consciousness concerning its ontological status and how it arises. The philosophers Kant, Coleridge, Hegel, and the physicist Max Planck, and others, have all proposed theories of matter as a pause, a coagulation, an arising, in the interplay of opposed forces.

Include? As footnotes?:

‘As a man who has devoted his whole life to the most clear-headed science, to the study of matter, I can tell you as a result of my research about atoms this much: There is no matter as such. All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force … We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter.’

‘I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.’ — Max Planck


[1] Coleridge, Letters, 4: 775, to Charles Augustus Tulk (September 1817).

[2] Coleridge, ‘Theory of Life’, Shorter Works, 522.

[3] Coleridge, Marginalia, 3: 851 (c.1812–16), discussing Moses Mendelsohn’s Morgenstunden (1785).

[4] S. T Coleridge, ‘The Role of Tetradic Logic’ (1818), Shorter Works, 1: 711.

[5] G. W. Leibniz, Monadology, §47.

[6] : E. A. Burtt, The Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Science, 2nd ed. London, 1932, 200–1.

[7] Specimen dynamicum §2 (WFP 154). This work summarizes his more extensive Dynamics (GM, VI, 281–514).

[8] Editor’s note to Leibniz, ‘Specimen Dynamicum’, Philosophical Papers and Letters, tr. and ed. Leroy E. Loemker, 2nd edn, Kluwer, Dordrecht, 1989: 451 n. 7.

[9] Leibniz, ‘Specimen Dynamicum’, 438.

[10] Kant, Physical Monadology (1756), as glossed by Michael Freidman, in his introduction to Kant, Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science ([1786] Cambridge, 2004).

[11] Immanuel Kant, ‘Attempt to Introduce the Concept of Negative Magnitudes into Philosophy’ (1763), Theoretical Philosophy, 211 (Ak. 2: 171).

[12] Hegel, Encyclopaedia of the Philosophical Sciences (1830) Part One, IV, Second Attitude of Thought to Objectivity (Two: The Critical Philosophy, §48)

[13] See, for instance, the cosmogony in the Timaeus.

[14] Max Planck, ‘Das Wesen der Materie [The Nature of Matter]’, speech at Florence, 1944 (Archiv zur Geschichte der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, Abt. Va, Rep. 11 Planck, Nr. 1797).

[15] e.g. Phillip Goff, ‘Panpsychism’, in ed. Susan Schneider, and Max Velmans, The Blackwell Companion to Consciousness (2nd edn; Oxford, 2017), 106–125.

[16] Coleridge, Biographia Literaria, 2: 240.

[17] Shorter Works, 1: 535.

[18] Letters, 4: 775 (September 1817), to Tulk.

[19] Letters, 6: 601 (27 July 1826), to Revd Edward Coleridge; var. Church and State, 183.

[20] ‘Theory of Life’, Shorter Works, 1: 530.

[21] Ibid.

[22] Church and State, 182.

[23] The Statesman’s Manual, 29.

[24] S. T. Coleridge, The Friend, 1: 94 fn.

[25] Joseph Needham, ‘S. T. Coleridge as a Philosophical Biologist’, Science Progress in the Twentieth Century (1919–1933), vol. 20, iss. 80 (April 1926), 692–702: 700–1.

[26] The English idiom ‘the salient point’ and the German der springender Punkt both directly derive from the embryological term and refer to an outstanding or importantly relevant feature.

[27] Joseph Needham, Chemical Embryology, Cambridge University Press, 1931, 7.

[28] Aristotle, History of Animals, 6.3.1-2, Bekker 561a13. Bold added.

[29] Plato, Timaeus, 76a–e.

[30] Coleridge, Letters, 1: 294–5, to John Thelwall (31 December, 1796).

[31] ‘Cord. (περὶ καρδίης, de corde) On the Heart’, ch. 10 in The ‘Hippocratic’ Corpus: Content and Context, tr. and ed. Elizabeth Craik ([4th century bc] 2014).

[32] Stéphane Schmitt, ‘The Description of the Development of the Chicken Embryo by Volcher Coiter (1572): text translated into French, annotated, with commentary’, Revue d’histoire des sciences, 73 (February 2020), 339–61.

[33] Harvey’s book was first published two years earlier in Latin, as Exercitationes de generatione animalium (1651).

[34] Harvey, De motu cordis, ch. 4 (1628).

[35] Harvey, De motu cordis (1628), ch. 17.

[36] William Harvey, De motu cordis (1628), ch. 8.

[37] Harvey, Exercitationes de generatione animalium, [1651] 51st exercise.

[38] Harvey, Exercitationes de generatione animalium, [1651] 45th exercise.

[39] Harvey, Exercitationes de generatione animalium, [1651] 1981, 96.

[40] Harvey, Exercitationes de generatione animalium, [1651] 54th exercise.

[41] Harvey, Exercitationes de generatione animalium, [1651] 54th exercise.

[42] ‘Colliquament’, The New Sydenham Society’s Lexicon of Medicine and the Allied Sciences (1879–99). ‘An extremely transparent fluid observable in an egg after two or three days’ incubation, which contains the rudiments of the chicken’ George Crabb, Universal Technological Dictionary (1823).

[43] Robert A. Greene, ‘Henry More and Robert Boyle on the Spirit of Nature’, Journal of the History of Ideas, 23.4 (1962), 451–74.

[44] Harvey, Exercitationes de generatione animalium, [1651] 29th exercise.

[45] Harvey, Exercitationes de generatione animalium, [1651].

[46] I. Bernard Cohen, ‘Harrington and Harvey: A Theory of the State Based on the New Physiology’, Journal of the History of Ideas, 55.2, 1994, 187–210.

[47] Coleridge, Notebooks, 2: §2598 f80v (May–August 1805).

[48] e.g. Needham, op. cit., 7; David Balme, ‘The Place of Biology in Aristotle’s Philosophy’, in Philosophical Issues in Aristotle’s Biology, ed. Allan Gotthelf and James Lennox (Cambridge University Press, 1987); John M. Cooper, ‘Metaphysics in Aristotle’s Embryology’, Proceedings of the Cambridge Philological Society, 34, 14-41; Sophia M. Connell, ‘Toward an Integrated Approach to Aristotle as a Biological Philosopher’, The Review of Metaphysics, 55.2 (2001), 297–322 (quotation from Connell, 304).

[49] Coleridge, Notebooks, 5: §6675 (1832).

[50] Ralph J. Coffmann, Coleridge’s Library: A Bibliography of Books Owned or Read by Samuel Taylor Coleridge (G. K. Hall, Boston, Mass., 1987).

[51] Steph. Blancardi (Steven Blankaart), Lexicon medicum renovatum …, Overbeke, Lovanii, 754, 711.

[52] Steven Blankaart, The Physical Dictionary: Wherein the terms of anatomy, the names and causes of diseases … are accurately described: Also the names and virtues of medicinal plants … ([1679] 1684), 245.

[53] Coleridge, ‘The Rime of the Ancyent Marinere’ (1798), Poetical Works, ed. J. C. C. Mays, 384. Gerry Briggs and Kiran Toor, ‘Coleridge, the Ancient Mariner, and the Philosopher’s Stone’, Journal of Romanticism, 2 (2017), 1–29: 21, connects this imagery in the ‘Rime’ to Blankaart’s embryological definition of the punctum saliens.

[54] Coleridge, ‘Theory of Life’, Shorter Works.

[55] Carlisle, ‘The Croonian Lecture: On Muscular Motion’, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, 95, 1–30 (1805), 5.

[56] Neil Vickers, Coleridge and the Doctors, Oxford University Press, 2004, 100.

[57] Southey, The Collected Letters of Robert Southey, 3, ed. Carol Bolton and Tim Fulford: §1064, to John Rickman (1 May 1805). https://romantic-circles.org/editions/southey_letters/Part_Three/index.html.

[58] Coleridge, Biographia Literaria, 1: 133. Sara Coleridge, in her 1847 edition of the Biographia, identifies the source, which can be found at a Schelling, Abhandlungen: Phil. Schrift., 240 (Sämmtliche Werke, 1: 379).

[59] Coleridge, Biographia Literaria, 1: 303.

[60] Muratori, The First German Philosopher, passim. Cheyne, ‘Adapting Böhme’s Bipolar Model’, ch. 5 in Coleridge’s Contemplative Philosophy, 125–61.

[61] Coleridge, Marginalia, 1: 537 (January 1828), annotating Blumenbach’s De Generis.

[62] ‘Theory of Life’ (1816–18), Shorter Works, 1: 521.

[63] Aristotle, Parts of Animals, 665a33 ff, and History of Animals,6.3, concludes, after meticulous observations of hen’s eggs, that this living speck is the first self-moving part of sanguineous creatures. At PA 665a33, Aristotle again refers to the heart as a “point” (φαίνεται γὰρ ἐν μὲν τοῖς ᾠοῖς ἐνίοτε τριταίοις οὖσι στιγμῆς ἔχοντα μέγεθος, “just about the size of a point, sometimes as early as the third day), but makes no mention of “leaping” or of any movement.

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