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Organising PoetryThe Coleridge Circle, 1790-1798$
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David Fairer

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199296163

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199296163.001.0001

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Organic Constitutions: Identity

Organic Constitutions: Identity

(p.33) 2 Organic Constitutions: Identity
Organising Poetry

David Fairer (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter follows the influence of Locke's chapter ‘On Identity and Diversity’ through to the 1790s and beyond, taking in the Lockean games of Sterne's Tristram Shandy, Hartley, Barbauld, Priestley, John ‘Walking’ Stewart, and Hazlitt. Rather than privileging unity, this organic identity values integrity and is tested by experience. It works to make connections through ‘self-consciousness’, Locke's term for an awareness of a continuing responsible personhood through life. Still drawing on this tradition, the recent theory of autopoiesis has described a mechanical organic linking computers and biology. In place of ‘unity’, this organic explores how elements of association, aggregation, juxtaposition, mixture, and superimposition work to keep living systems alive.

Keywords:   Locke, Sterne, identity, diversity, Hartley, Barbauld, Priestley, John Stewart, Hazlitt, autopoiesis

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