Emerson & American Idealism – PHI 522

COURSE DESCRIPTION

This course will explore the work and thought of American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson through the development of what came to be known as Transcendentalism.  We will study how this philosophy developed from the Perennial
Philosophy through European Idealism to become a unique expression of a vital philosophical vision.

What today we call New England Transcendentalism was born in the town of Concord, Massachusetts in the 1830s, when its founder and leader, Ralph Waldo Emerson, wrote and anonymously published a brief (90 page) book entitled Nature. The book hardly made an impression on the general public, but intellectuals in the Boston area, including Harvard professors and Unitarian ministers, saw in the book an articulation of new ideas building on principles from the Perennial Philosophy, Neoplatonism and German Idealism. Emerson began to lecture, giving speeches at Harvard (“The American Scholar” and “The Divinity School Address”) and then in 1841 published his Essays, First Series, which included the famous “Self-Reliance.” From that point on, Emerson was the central figure in what became known as the Concord Circle, which included such figures as Henry David Thoreau, Bronson Alcott and Margaret Fuller. This course will explore the central ideas of Emerson’s vision in the light of its connection to European Idealism, panpsychism, and Neoplatonism.

 

 

COURSE SESSIONS AND TOPICS

This course is divided into ten, one-hour sessions. An introductory DVD,
is provided to better acquaint the student with the instructor.

Session   1 | Beginnings: Emerson and American Idealism
Session   2 | Primary Sources: Influences and Inspiration
Session   3 | The Birth of New England Transcendentalism
Session   4 | The Eight Principles
Session   5 | The Over-Soul and Universal Mind
Session   6 | Spiritual Laws and Experience
Session   7 | Compensation and Fate
Session   8 | Idealism and the New Physics
Session   9 | The Authentic Life
Session 10 | The Examined Life

 

LEARNING OUTCOMES

Outcome 1: To be able to read Emerson’s work with understanding
and be able to describe and articulate the central ideas and
principles in each text studied.

Outcome 2: To be able to see and understand the connections
in these texts to the central principles of Neoplatonism and Idealism.

Outcome 3: To be able to discuss Emerson’s work in relation
to one’s own development in terms of what we refer to as
individual authenticity and Plato’s idea of The Examined Life.

 

PROFESSOR

Richard G. Geldard, PhD – Dramatic Literature and Classics, Stanford University.  Adjunct Professor of Philosophy at Yeshiva University, Doctoral Faculty at Pacifica Graduate Institute, and Author of ten books on Early Greek philosophy
and the thought of Ralph Waldo Emerson (see www.rgbooks.com)
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PURCHASE AUDIO / VIDEO

The lecture series from this course is also available for independent study.
>> Click Here to order these course materials.

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