Ralph Waldo Emerson


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Related to Ralph Waldo Emerson: Henry David Thoreau

Emerson, Ralph Waldo

 

Born May 25, 1803, in Boston; died Apr. 27, 1882, in Concord. American idealist philosopher, poet, and essayist. Head of the Transcendentalist movement.

Emerson’s philosophical views developed under the influence of classical German idealism. His world view was spiritualist and presented the spirit as the only reality. Taking a position close to pantheism, Emerson regarded nature as the embodiment of the spiritual absolute. He viewed the human soul as a microcosm that forms an intermediate link between the macrocosmic oversoul and nature. For Emerson, personal moral perfection consisted in the attainment of harmony with the oversoul.

Emerson’s ethics, which derive from romanticism, are individualist despite their pantheist tendency. Emerson sharply criticized capitalism; he thought that the institution of property in its 19th-century form was unjust and that it had pernicious effects. His social ideal was a utopia based on private property; according to Emerson, each person should live the simple and wise life of a free farmer or craftsman alone with nature.

Emerson won widespread fame for his lectures on social and ethical themes, such as those published in Letters and Social Aims (1876).

WORKS

Complete Works, vols. 1–12. New York, 1923.
The Letters, vols. 1–6. New York, 1939.
Essays, series 1–2. New York [1961].
The Journals, vols. 1–6. Cambridge, Mass., 1960–66.
In Russian translation:
Soch., vols. 1–2. St. Petersburg, 1902–03.
Nravstvennaia filosofiia, parts 1–2. St. Petersburg, 1868.
O bessmertii dushi. Moscow, 1887.
Vysshaia dusha. Moscow, 1902.
O doverii k sebe, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1904.
Estetika amerikanskogo romantizma, Moscow, 1977. Pages 178–397. (Translated from English.)

REFERENCES

Istoriia filosofii, vol. 3. Moscow, 1943. Pages 498–504.
Parrington, V. L. Osnovnye techeniia amerikanskoi mysli, vol. 2. Moscow, 1962. Pages 448–64. (Translated from English.)
Brooks, V. W. Pisatel’ i amerikanskaia zhizn’, vol. 1. Moscow, 1967. (Translated from English.)
Gray, H. D. Emerson. [Palo Alto, Calif.] 1917.
Sakmann, P. R. W. Emerson’s Geisteswelt nach den Werken und Tagebuchern. [Stuttgart, 1927.]
Gonnaud, M. Individu et société dans l’oeuvre de R. W. Emerson. Paris-Brussels, 1964. (Contains bibliography.)
Perry, B. Emerson Today. Hamden, Conn., 1969.
Cooke, G. A Bibliography of R. W. Emerson. [Ann Arbor, Mich., 1962.]

B. E. BYKHOVSKII

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The Over-Soul," in The Collected Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson, vol.
The Collected Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson is a monumental achievement produced by many editors over nearly half a century, and is especially a tribute to the work of the final Editor-in-Chief, Ronald Bosco, who with the help of Joel Myerson completed some of the most difficult editorial work of the entire edition in a timely manner.
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The spark that made the final idea take shape for me was found in a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson, "What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.
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Over the years, its membership has included George Washington, Ben Franklin, Daniel Webster, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Albert Einstein, and Winston Churchill.
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Science," wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson, "does not know its debt to imagination.
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