I have a genuine question: we're all familiar with this ideological trajectory (youthful radical, elderly conservative). It strikes me as having two main iterations. One: the Saul-on-the-road-to-Tarsus version, where something happens, externally or internally, and Person A switches their ideological affiliation about recto-verso. Two: the My-Principles-Have-Remained-Consistent version. This latter interests me more, actually, because my proximate motivation for asking my question (yes, yes, I'll come to the question in a moment) is Coleridge, who was a youthful radical and became a Church-and-State Tory, yet who insisted repeatedly that his principles had not altered one jot. (A related version, though without the youthful radicalism, is Tim Rice's Genghis-gallop rightwards and consequent disaffection with the Tory party, of which he famously said: 'I didn't leave the Conservative Party; the Conservative Party left me').
So, my question: this is so common a feature of ideological life it must have been theorised, analysed, discussed and critiqued. But I can't think by whom, or in which books, essays or blogs. Do you know?
‘Could a rule be given from without, poetry would cease to be poetry, and sink into a mechanical art. It would be μóρφωσις, not ποίησις. The rules of the IMAGINATION are themselves the very powers of growth and production. The words to which they are reducible, present only the outlines and external appearance of the fruit. A deceptive counterfeit of the superficial form and colours may be elaborated; but the marble peach feels cold and heavy, and children only put it to their mouths.’ [Coleridge, Biographia ch. 18]
‘ποίησις’ (poiēsis) means ‘a making, a creation, a production’ and is used of poetry in Aristotle and Plato. ‘μóρφωσις’ (morphōsis) in essence means the same thing: ‘a shaping, a bringing into shape.’ But Coleridge has in mind the New Testament use of the word as ‘semblance’ or ‘outward appearance’, which the KJV translates as ‘form’: ‘An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form [μóρφωσις] of knowledge and of the truth in the law’ [Romans 2:20]; ‘Having a form [μóρφωσις] of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away’ [2 Timothy 3:5]. I trust that's clear.
There is much more on Coleridge at my other, Coleridgean blog.