Documentary on Life and Inspiration of Ralph Waldo Emerson

'Our life,' Emersonstates, 'is March weather, savage and serene in one hour'.

Emerson's Wife. A novel by Amy Belding Brown.

Emerson presents himselfas having undertaken this task in 'Self-Reliance': 'Few and mean as mygifts may be, I actually am, and do not need for my own assurance or theassurance of my fellows any secondary testimony.'

For Emerson, like Kierkegaard and Nietzsche, finds the existenceof the self to be a major issue.

Edward Waldo Emerson, Boston: Houghton Mifflin,12 volumes.

Yet Emerson insists that there is alsoliberty or freedom, and that this liberty rests on our powers of thinking:'if there be irresistible dictation, this dictation understands itself.'As in all his work, from Nature onward, Emerson records both our subjectionto necessity and our powers of overcoming it.

"Corpse-cold" Emerson called theprevious generation of rational religion.

The Harvard-educated Emerson and others began toread Hindu and Buddhist scriptures, and examine their own religious assumptionsagainst these scriptures.

[Jone Johnson Lewis] A reliable and searchable source for many Emerson texts, with discussion.


(Sets out Emerson's relation to Heideggerthrough discussion of his

The 'easternmonarchy of a Christianity' Emerson finds around him treats the revelationas something that happened 'long ago..., as if God were dead.' But, Emersoninsists, 'God is; not was.'

(Emerson'sthought in relation to

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(A superbly written general account ofEmerson's life and writing.)

Emerson calls us back to ordinary life:to 'the literature of the poor, the feelings of the child, the philosophyof the street, the meaning of household life'.

(A memoir by one of Emerson's distinguishedfriends.)

Our awareness of ourselves since the Fall of Man has robbed us of our ability to live in what we see – now, we project ourselves onto objects, including nature, art, other people, religions, and even God. “Every evil and every good thing is a shadow which we cast.” We perceive the world in ways that validate our importance and our divine connection. We believe in ourselves, but not in others. We permit our own sins, but not those of others. For example, Emerson points to crimes performed out of love (e.g., murder, stealing) – the perpetrator believes it right and fair, but others find it destructive. We perceive the world in relative, rather than absolute, terms. Our soul only attains its “due sphericity” (completeness) when we learn from the specialized knowledge imparted by the perspectives of great minds.

(The best contemporary literary treatment of Emerson'sessays.)

Emerson thinks of history, like scholarship,as a matter primarily of the personal and the present, as 'the desire todo away this wild, savage and preposterous There or Then, and introducein its place the Here and the Now.' 'The Over-Soul' teaches a religionof the here and now to go along with Emerson's present-oriented historyand scholarship: 'The simplest person, who in his integrity worships God,becomes God.' 'Circles' expresses Emerson's vision of flux and incompletion,in which 'permanence is but a word of degrees'.

(A classic discussion of Emerson's dialectic of freedom and fate.)

The new culture can be achieved,and the beauty of the world restored, 'by the redemption of the soul,'but this redemption takes place, Emerson emphasizes, according to no formulaor model, but through 'untaught sallies of the spirit, by a continual self-recovery,and by entire humility'.