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The following essay is posted here for free. It is written on philosophy and mentions several prominent philosophers:
The position of Baudelaire in the earlier stages of this development is unique and generally regarded as of the utmost significance. His secret, so far as it can be penetrated, seems to lie in his imaginative use of all the perceptions at once, in a fusion and moulding of data from every level of consciousness. Awareness of bodily needs, hunger, heat, cold, fatigue, pain, and of raw sensation seems never to have overwhelmed his philosophic sense of the wholeness of man. Perceptions from all levels are coordinated in most of his poems, discrimination between each permitting him to see and communicate a symbolic relationship, a correspondance as he calls it, transcending all the data.
In this way he is far from being a poet of mere sensationalisms. More than his predecessors, and often much more than most of his followers, Baudelaire draws with precise insight on the whole range of human consciousness as the material for his poems. Through his hunger or his passions he may feel the suffering of others, but he proceeds further, beyond sympathy, to generalize. He does not linger as does an Alfred de Musset to glorify the individual reaction, the private delight that sympathy indulges. Suffering, and with it the revolt against suffering, are characteristics of the human situation; Baudelaire, like the contemporary naturalistic novelists, finds the individual case representative of a recognizable order of things, not permanently beyond all human reason nor ultimately mysterious.
There seems little reason to believe, on the basis of such poems as this, and there are many, that Baudelaire differs from other authors of his day in being either obscurantist or a mystic. Fullness, richness of perception, consciousness of the difficulty human intelligence faces as it tries to make sense of the increasing complexity of the data presented by the refinements of modern techniques, is not the + same as religious or mystical contemplation that denies differences in the light of a single unifying principle. The All may be seen by the One; but for Baudelaire, the All is not One--if it were, then why should there be correspondances?--nor is the One All.
Baudelaire thus marks the beginning of a movement away from optimism, either of the positivist scientific variety or of the sentimental romantic stripe. Yet he has not lost faith in man; as poet, he believes in the arts, even if they are lighthouses of despair; in his philosophical meditation on human destiny, he holds out hope in the great journey of the race, not in the achievement of a final goal, but in its value as experience, as a means of showing what man can do, of testing man's own powers.