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Additional resources for A Modern Coleridge: Cultivation, Addiction, Habits
That is, the acts of the will become, again, one with the body from which they had been initially severed, or, alternatively, above which they were supposed to ‘rise’. Indeed, although Coleridge considers the will ‘the pre-eminent part of our humanity’ (AR, 88–89), he attributes great significance to the development of proper ‘habits of reflection’ and ‘virtuous habits’, which can work without the constant interference of the will. The first chapter on habits demonstrates that while Coleridge rejects both Hume’s and Burke’s conception of habit and foregrounds the role of the will in the workings of the human mind, his discourse on education is thoroughly intertwined, quite counter-intuitively, with a partly Lockean, partly Aristotelian discourse on habits.
These mental habits, which will later serve the proper use of words, resemble, as will be shown, the automated movements of the well trained body (L, 12–13). In Opus Maximum, and the ‘Suprenumerary Lecture on Education’, Coleridge describes the child’s early bond with the mother and the moral education of school children, foregrounding the practical conditions of the later eliciting of ‘virtuous habits’, or virtue as a habit, which he understands, as we will see, in a quasi-Aristotelian sense. More particularly, while Opus Maximum treats how the child is awakened to a sense of ‘life as a unity’ through the close proximity of the mother who serves as an intermediary between God and the child, the Lecture outlines the ways in which the child’s heart can be stimulated to love in the later stages of education.
As Coleridge puts it earlier in The Friend: Cultivating Reason and the Will 29 If therefore society is to be under a rightful constitution of government, and one that can impose on Rational beings a true and moral obligation to obey it, it must be framed on such principles that every individual follows his own Reason while he obeys the laws of the constitution, and performs the will of the state while he follows the dictates of his own reason. , 192, italics in original) Coleridge’s argument, at the same time, also exemplifies François Lyotard’s claim that post-Enlightenment narratives of legitimation are always based on a Kantian idea of freedom informed by the Rousseauvian idea of the Social Contract.