Keats

p. 36

More self-destroying, leading, by degrees,
To the chief intensity: the crown of these
Is made of love and friendship, and sits high
Upon the forehead of humanity.
All its more ponderous and bulky worth
Is friendship, whence there ever issues forth
A steady splendour; but at the tip-top,
There hangs by unseen film, an orbed drop
Of light, and that is love: its influence,
Thrown in our eyes, genders a novel sense,
At which we start and fret; till in the end

Melting into its radiance, we blend,
Mingle, and so become a part of it… [14]

In a letter to John Taylor, dated 30 January 1818, Keats refers to the process described above as the “Pleasure Thermometer.” He comments, “The whole thing must I think have appeared to you, who are a consequitive Man, a thing almost of mere words — but I assure you that when I wrote it, it was a regular stepping of the Imagination towards a Truth.” [15] Hence he declares, “I am certain of nothing but the holiness of the Heart’s affections and the Truth of the Imagination — what the imagination seizes as Beauty must be truth.” [16]

Men are normally dogmatic in their judgments. But Keats rejects dogmatism as an obstacle to the proper development of the mind. “The only means of strengthening one’s intellect,” he asserts, “is to make up one’s mind about nothing — to let the mind be a thoroughfare for all thoughts.” “Stubborn arguers,” he maintains, are all of “the same brood. They never begin a subject they have not preresolved on. They want to hammer their nail into you and if you turn the point, still they think you wrong.” [17] According to Keats, the genuine truth seeker is a man “capable of being in uncertainties. Mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact & reason.” He defines such a human quality as “Negative Capability.” [18] This quality also involves the loss of self-identity and the submitting of oneself to things.

Keats’s epistemology is very like that of Zen. [18a] According to Zen, the real is within us, so that “we lack nothing.” No deliberate effort on our part to discover the real within us is required. In fact, deliberate effort is an ob-

Ref: http://ccbs.ntu.edu.tw/FULLTEXT/JR-PHIL/ew27106.htm

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