Emerson's Hidden Influence: What Can Spinoza Tell the Boy?


Scholarship on Emerson to date has not considered Spinoza’s influence upon his thought. Indeed, from his lifetime until the twentieth century, Emerson’s friends and disciples engaged in a concerted cover-up because of Spinoza’s hated name. However, Emerson mentioned his respect and admiration of Spinoza in his journals, letters, lectures, and essays, and Emerson’s thought clearly shows an importation of ideas central to Spinoza’s system of metaphysics, ethics, and biblical hermeneutics. In this essay, I undertake a biographical and philosophical study in order to show the extent of Spinoza’s influence on Emerson and how this changes the traditional understanding of Emerson’s thought.



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Spinoza.Alan Donagan - 1989 - Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Spinoza.Alan Donagan - 1988 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 40 (2):119-121.
Spinoza and the Early English Deists.Rosalie L. Colie - 1959 - Journal of the History of Ideas 20 (1/4):23.
Spinoza: l'expérience et l'éternité.Pierre-François Moreau - 2009 - Presses Universitaires de France - PUF.
The Romantic Spinoza in America.Benjamin Wolstein - 1953 - Journal of the History of Ideas 14 (3):439.

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