The Metempsychotic Mind: Emerson and Consciousness

Journal of the History of Ideas 71 (3):433-455 (2010)
This article argues that Ralph Waldo Emerson employs metempsychosis (reincarnation or the transmigration of the soul into successive bodies) as a figurative template for human consciousness. Mapping various traditions from Hinduism, Pythagoreanism, Platonism, and Neoplatonism onto the vastness of the geological and biological records, Emerson translates metaphysics for modernity: he depicts the soul's journey through the chronological sequence of history as a poetic process that culminates in a tenuous form of self-knowledge.
Keywords History of philosophy  Ralph Waldo Emerson
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DOI 10.1353/jhi.0.0088
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