4 responses to “Thinking with Emerson, Or how German Idealism Came to America”
It would be very hard for me to get too abstract in “imagining with Emerson”, for he was very much the imagination of the time in history in which he thrived; the history in which the whole of nature, the continent stretching out before the east, the vast lure of the terrain, by which the settlers were inspired, gave forth an aura of grandeur, captured by the Hudson River School of painters; (images from google); https://www.google.com/search?q=hudson+river+school&hl=en&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=HmVGUsC6M4rN2AW4-oHICw&sqi=2&ved=0CAcQ_AUoAQ&biw=1203&bih=817&dpr=1 …and I am sure much has been written about the connection, such as ; http://www.pbs.org/wnet/ihas/icon/hudson.html ….etc…but my point is that the land itself helped Emerson think and feel as he did…the land itself usurped any congregational dogma, and priesthood. http://www.timesunion.com/entertainment/article/Albany-Institute-exhibit-offers-fresh-insights-4392707.php The great Beauty that beckoned did not need such a mediator ( nor does it now) …As experienced by Emerson, the land *was* imagination, and like the waterfalls and verdant wilderness, met the mind overflowing with reason. (Emerson’s transparent eyeball). That Emerson’s organic unity, God-man-nature, can be woven with Whitehead is no surprise: http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/460668?uid=3739680&uid=2&uid=4&uid=3739256&sid=21102690291287 . That “go it alone individualism” was grounded in the individual as an expression of creation, merged with the land as full of bounty and grace…ie, before the rugged individualism there was the imagination of the individual unbifurcated from a certain telos, confirmed by the open invitation of the wild, which could chaotically restore the immediacy of experience and strip away distancing abstractions which overly civilized and numbed the life of the soul, corrupting/diluting genius. It seems to me that so much reaches towards what Latour would achieve, in continuing to imagine and create concepts beyond Kant, especially with the present need for a felt rationale to comprehend ecological reality, which in final participation, rife with revelation, hopefully will antiquate the word “ecological” as an artifact of the unevolved imagination. Good luck with your chapter, Matt.