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American Philosophy before Pragmatism$
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Russell B. Goodman

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199577545

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199577545.001.0001

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Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson

(p.147) 5 Ralph Waldo Emerson
American Philosophy before Pragmatism

Russell B. Goodman

Oxford University Press

Emerson was a Romantic philosopher/poet who achieved fame in his own time and influenced philosophers as diverse as Friedrich Nietzsche, John Dewey, and Stanley Cavell. This chapter begins with a survey of some of the early intellectual influences on Emerson: Unitarian Christianity, Plato and Neoplatonism, Kant, Madame de Staël, Hume and Montaigne, Wordsworth and Coleridge. The discussion then turns to Concord in the 1830s: Emerson’s encounters with Margaret Fuller, Frederic Henry Hedge, and Bronson Alcott; his first book, Nature (1836); and his radical addresses, “The American Scholar” and “The Divinity School Address.” Emerson develops his mature philosophy in his essays of the 1840s and 1850s, discussed here under the following headings: Emerson’s philosophical style, self-reliance, friendship, temporality, one and many, power, fate, race, and slavery.

Keywords:   Unitarian Christianity, Plato, Wordsworth, Nietzsche, self-reliance, friendship, temporality, race, slavery, philosophical style

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