The code of Concord : Emerson's search for universal laws

University dissertation from Stockholm : Almqvist & Wiksell International / Acta Universitatis Stockholmiensis

Abstract: The purpose of this work is to detect a pattern: the concordance of Ethics and Aesthetics, Poetics and Politics in the most influential American thinker of the nineteenth century. It is an attempt to trace a basic concept of the Emersonian transcendentalist doctrine, its development, its philosophical meaning and practical implications. Emerson’s thought is analyzed genetically in search of the generating paradigm, or the set of axioms from which his aesthetic ideas as well as his political reasoning are derived. Such a basic structure, or point of convergence, is sought in the emergence of Emerson’s idea of universal laws that repeat themselves on all levels of reality.A general introduction is given in Part One, where the crisis in Emerson’s life is seen as representing and foreshadowing the deeper existential crisis of modern man.In Part 2 we follow the increasingly skeptical theologian’s turn to science, where he tries to secure a safe secular foundation for ethical good and right and to solve the problem of evil.Part 3 shows how Emerson’s conception of the laws of nature and ethics is applied in his political philosophy.In Part 4, Emerson’s ideas of the arts are seen as corresponding to his views of nature, morality, and individuality.Finally, in Part 5, the ancient and classical nature of Concord philosophy is brought into focus.The book concludes with a short summary.

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