Ralph Waldo Emerson

Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Acronyms, Wikipedia.
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).


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.]


References in periodicals archive ?
In 1896, Frank Sanborn published a piece in the New England Magazine about portraits of Ralph Waldo Emerson (1)--an ambitious undertaking for the scope of a popular periodical article.
O'Brien's aspirations for these essays is that they occupy a space somewhere "between Robert Benchley and Ezra Pound, between Lenny Bruce and Wyndham Lewis, between Ralph Waldo Emerson and Where's Waldo, and often they do.
But, as the REGO report itself so eloquently quotes Ralph Waldo Emerson, "What you do thunders so loudly I cannot hear what you say to the contrary.
In his essay "The American Scholar," Ralph Waldo Emerson lists three essential influences on the creative mind: interaction with nature, knowledge of the past and familiarity with society.
The other day I picked up a thin volume of writings by Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Augustine, Dante Alighieri, Desiderius Erasmus, William Tyndale, John Knox, John Milton, Thomas Jefferson, and Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, in 1836, wrote the poem presented below.
Among the authors are Friedrich Schiller, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Charles Darwin, Henry James, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Ernst Bloch.
Written by a former president of the Ralph Waldo Emerson Society, Emerson & Eros: The Making of a Cultural Hero is the story of the life and the spiritual, psychological, and intellectual growth of American literary icon Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882).
Including Elizabeth Peabody, Henry David Thoreau, Louisa May Alcott, and Ralph Waldo Emerson, Rachel's Story is an intriguing and knowledgeably written novel of what would most certainly have been a life many might now be envious of.
When Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson became friends in 1837, Emerson, who was already a major literary figure in New England, assumed the role of Thoreau's mentor and patron.
George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Daniel Webster, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Albert Einstein and Winston Churchill are among the academy's past Fellows and Foreign Honorary Members.