Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Related to Ralph Waldo Emerson: Henry David Thoreau
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

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).


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.)


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.]


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
"Napoleon, or the Man of the World." In The Collected Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson, edited by Joseph Slater, 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.
Essays of Ralph Waldo Emerson. New York: Garden City Publishing Company, 1941.
Ralph Waldo Emerson described in his writings his internal conflict between elation over new technology and fear that it would impair civic virtue and personal freedom.
Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines," but our little statesmen seem to specialize in foolish inconsistency.
Ralph Waldo Emerson: "A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is braver five minutes longer." Christopher Reeve: "I think a hero is an ordinary individual who finds strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles." Daniel J.
"There is no truth but in transit," Ralph Waldo Emerson famously said (and of course there's the line about a foolish consistency being the hobgoblin of little minds).
Ralph Waldo Emerson said that if you build a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door.
Following the trail of the bankrupt entrepreneurs who internalized a business maxim found in Ralph Waldo Emerson's 1842 journal jottings--"that nobody fails who ought not to fail.
Then think of Ralph Waldo Emerson's quote: "The louder they talked of their honour, the faster we counted the spoons."
But as their philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson said: "Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm."