Download e-book for kindle: Emerson and Self-Culture by John T. Lysaker

By John T. Lysaker

How do I dwell an excellent existence, one who is deeply own and delicate to others? John T. Lysaker means that those that take this query heavily have to reexamine the paintings of Ralph Waldo Emerson. In philosophical reflections on themes resembling genius, divinity, friendship, and reform, Lysaker explores ''self-culture'' or the try to stay real to one's inner most commitments. He argues that being real to ourselves calls for reputation of our completely based and relational nature. Lysaker courses readers from basic self-absorption towards a extra pleasing and responsive engagement with the world.

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Sample text

I do not understand Emerson to be claiming that under no conditions can one analyze involuntary perceptions. The phrase itself combines two terms, after all. Moreover, its logical structure (perceiver and perceived) as well as the activity/passivity distinction implicit in “involuntary” leads us to look for at least three logically discrete moments: the perceiver, the perception, and the perceived. But in proceeding in this way, one risks losing the integrity of involuntary perceptions as they occur.

Every line we draw in the sand has expression; and there is no body without spirit or genius” (CW3, 8). I take this to mean something very particular. Nature is symbolic because, in a Spinozistic sense, it expresses those forces that produce the phenomenon in question. This is why Emerson is so adamant that there is nothing mean in nature. A tree tells a tale of sunlight, soil chemistry, rainfall, a deer’s teeth, or the claws of a puma, and so on to the depth and degree of our literacy. Similarly, our bodies, “borrowed like a beggar’s dinner from a hundred charities,” tell tales of gravitational fields, atmospheric composition, climates, the chances of natural selection—or, more personally, of falls, collisions, nutritional choices, social histories of sexuality, and so forth.

And, a bit more to the point: “It was not possible to write the history of Shakspear until now. ’ Here certainly is an important particular in the story of that great mind yet how recent! ” (JMN7, 116). In short, historicism seems to preclude the ways in which a text may prove untimely, or rather, timely for a later set of readers who know that the “past has a new value every moment to the advancing mind” (JMN9, 87). I should stress that by embracing Emerson’s address as a living provocation and challenge, I am not receiving it ahistorically.

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