Review of Metaphysics 31 (1):80 - 92 (1977)

Much of the attention of recent students of American philosophy has been concentrated on the study of philosophers and ways of doing philosophy in the post-Civil War era. It is understandable that this should be so, for the problems of late nineteenth and twentieth century thought are still alive, still perplexing, in our own attempts at philosophic understanding. There is much, however, that is overlooked by narrowing our focus to what Max Fisch and his associates describe as "classic" American philosophy, and to our own post-classic era. It may well be that some aspects of the earlier and now unfashionable philosophies and philosophers can still have resonance in our thinking if only we are willing to give these older philosophies a hearing. For this reason, this present study explores the philosophy of Ralph Waldo Emerson and reexamines his thought at the point where, it seems to me, it is still viable today, namely as a social philosophy for a society, like our own, hopelessly committed to an extreme individualism.
Keywords R.W. Emerson  American philosophy  Individualism
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DOI revmetaph197731190
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