P. B. Shelley – Philosophy from his Poetry

P. B. Shelley’s philosophy (following my previous Post on Love’s Philosophy) …

He went from an external to an internal philosophy based on humanity having the power to combat the sources of suffering based on a personal responsibility within the social framework (a micro view).

Here is his philosophy as reflected in some of his poetry … based on ‘The Norton Anthology’ –

1 … In Queen Mab

… Shelley believed that injustice and suffering can be eliminated by an external revolution that will wipe out or radically reform the sources of evil

2 … In Prometheus Unbound

… the origin of evil and the possibility of reform are the responsibility of men and women themselves. Social chaos and wars are a gigantic projection of human moral disorder and inner division and conflict, tyrants are the outer representatives of the tyranny of our baser over our better elements; hatred for others is a product of self-contempt; and successful political reform is impossible unless we have reformed our own nature at its roots, by substituting selfless love for divisive hate. Shelley incorporates into his secular myth … (i.e.  universal regeneration by an apocalypse of the moral imagination of the human race) … the ethical teaching of Christ on the Mount, as well as the highest classical morality represented in Prometheus.

Note … Prometheus Unbound (from Shelley’s preface) … is a large and intricate imaginative construction that involves premises about human nature and the springs of morality and creativity (Shelley abhorred didactic poetry).

The non-Christian poet W. B. Yeats called PU one of ‘the sacred books of the world’.

The Christian critic C. S. Lewis found in PU poetic powers matched only by Dante.

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