Romantic Philosophy with Dr Mark Vernon

Romantic Philosophy

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The Idler Guide to Romantic Philosophy with Mark Vernon explores a way of engaging with life that is often eclipsed in a world of utility, science and the rational. The Romantics were convinced that feeling opens reality to us and reconnects us with soul.

Find out how the immersion in nature and life’s vitality that the Romantics advocated was in fact part and parcel of the experience of many of the first scientists. Hear how those scientists often worked with their poetic peers. Coleridge for example lectured at the Royal Institution. The great naturalist Alexander von Humboldt was a collaborator with the writer Wolfgang von Goethe.

Dr Vernon examines these links and explains the Romantic ideas behind them across the fields of science, art, religion and philosophy. He considers the significance of figures such as Rousseau, Wordsworth and Turner. You’ll find out what drove them and how they influenced more recent philosophies such as Marxism and Existentialism as well as the psychology of Freud and the ‘spiritual but not religious’.

Coleridge said that ‘we receive but what we give’. This course aims to show how reaching towards the inside of the world returns a side of life to us that we must not forget.

Lesson 1: Background (23 minutes of video plus exercises, quiz and further reading)

An introduction to the ideas and major figures discussed in this course: Descartes, Bacon, Rousseau, Storm and Drang, Wordsworth and Coleridge

Lesson 2: High Noon (27 minutes of video plus exercises, quiz and further reading)

This lesson tracks the deepening of the Romantic vision in literature, art and thought. Find our more about the thinking of Goethe, von Humboldt, John Stuart Mill and the poetry of Wordsworth.

Lesson 3: Aftermath (23 minutes video plus exercises, quiz and further reading)

The final lesson in this course asks us to consider the lasting impact of the Romantic movement.  Find out how it influenced Marxism, Existentialism, and the ‘spiritual but not religious’ movement.  See how it might help us address today’s ecological crisis.

About the tutor

Dr Mark Vernon is a psychotherapist with a private practice in London, as well as working at the Maudsley Hospital. He is also a writer, broadcaster and teacher. He has a PhD in philosophy, and degrees in theology and physics. His most recent books include – The Idler Guide To Ancient Philosophy (Idler Books), Love: All That Matters (Hodder) and Jung: How To Believe (Guardian Shorts) – and he has books on friendship, belief and the good life too. Mark contributes regularly to publications in the UK, including the Guardian and Church Times, and also broadcasts on the BBC. He began his professional life as a priest in the Church of England. For more visit,