By Anita Haya Patterson
This publication strains a provocative line from Emerson's paintings on race, reform, and id to paintings through 3 influential African- American thinkers--W. E. B. Du Bois, Martin Luther King Jr., and Cornel West--each of whom bargains sophisticated engagement with either the culture of written protest and the critique of liberalism Emerson formed. Emerson has been forged in fresh debate as both an antinomian or an ideologue--as both subversive of institutional controls or indebted to capitalism. right here, Patterson contributes a extra nuanced view, probing Emerson's list and its cultural and old matrix to record a primary rhetoric of contradiction--a strategic aligning of adversarial political concepts--that enabled him to either confirm and critique components of the liberal democratic version. Drawing richly on themes in political philosophy, legislation, faith, and cultural historical past, Patterson examines the character and implications of Emerson's contradictory rhetoric in components I and II. partially III she considers Emerson's legacy from the viewpoint of African-American highbrow historical past, picking clean continuities and the most important discontinuities among the canonical pressure of protest writing Emerson helped identify and African-American literary and philosophical traditions.
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Extra info for From Emerson to King: Democracy, Race, and the Politics of Protest
The less laborious the process of appropriation and use, the closer the object comes to being unowned, held in common in the natural world. This tension between the laboriously appropriated and the natural, the owned and the unowned, registers the contradiction that is central to Emerson's critique of Lockean, liberal rights discourse. One example of property that exhibits this tension or contradiction between the owned and the natural (or unowned) is defined by Emerson as beauty that is "an object of the intellect" (Essays, 18), whose production is associated with poetic experience and imagination.
In Representative Men, public action is to be found in publications read at home: "Unpublished nature will have its whole secret told," he tells us, "Thus, we sit by the fire, and take hold of the poles of the earth" (RM, 619). TWO Property and the Body in Nature T he belief that the discourse of property rights is sufficient to the task of representing the self and the bonds of civil society is a fundamental, well-rehearsed tenet of liberal political thought. The theory of property that best expresses this belief has been put forward by the philosopher John Locke.
The sun, he tells us, shall be as much his property as his own body, but that body will not be the property of a more private will than the sea and the stars. The meaning for property at which Emerson arrives is twofold and contradictory: at the same time that it opens the possibility of limitless appropriation and calls for the extension of the idea of ownership to remote celestial realms, it also stands as a critique of his proprietary claim on that most private of possessed spaces, the human body.