Biography of Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Philosopher, essayist and American poet, regarded as the founder of transcendentalism, together with H. D. Thoreau, Alcott B., M. Fuller and others. He/She studied at the Theological College of Harvard and became pastor of the Unitarian Church. After the death of his wife he/she departed from Unitarianism. His best-known work is the nature (1836), composed of a series of conferences and considered the manifesto of transcendentalism. Other works are: seven trials (1841), symbolic men (1850), the conduct of life (1860), society and solitude (1870) letters and social aims (1876).

Transcendentalism is a form of idealism in which romantic elements, mix themes in neoplatonic and Eastern mysticism, as well as a marked pantheistic resonance. The universe, says Emerson, is like the body of the infinite divine spirit, conceived this as a kind of Oversoul ("Superalma"). The Oversoul is something like the soul to the body. Nature is subject to the will of God and can not be violated with impunity by the man.Despite its mystical tone, transcendentalism had its social and political implications. First of all presented as a romantic reaction against the enlightenment and previous empiricism. On the other hand, he/she extolled a radical and non-conformist individualism against American utilitarian society. What influenced, especially in society and American customs, was the vehemence of the fervently conferences of Emerson.Digna be taken into account is its philosophy of history. Emerson thinks that also he/she acting the divine "OverSoul", which is embodied in the "symbolic men" (Carlyle called them "heroes"), or in those "geniuses" that, abandoning his selfishness, develop thoughts and works on behalf of mankind, and in accordance with divine will.

Related topics

Literature of United States of America.

Transcendentalism.