Emerson and Other Minds

Emerson and Other Minds

Idealism and the Moral Self

by Michael J. Colacurcio

450 pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in

  • Paperback
  • ISBN: 9781481311779
  • Published: December 2020

$49.95

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In Emerson and Other Minds, Michael J. Colacurcio traces the long arc of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s writings. While Emerson’s seldom argues academically in his essays, he intends the essays to be primary acts of philosophy. The essays are also highly wrought literary performances, and so they need to be closely read in the New Critical manner.

Colacurcio proposes that Emerson is one of modernity’s central writers on the question of "privacy": the unsettling epistemological fact that even though people have the ability to share through language the experiences that shape their version of the world, no one else can fully experience another’s process of creating and evaluating the world. Emerson may imagine a transparent eyeball, but never a universal retina. This ineluctable privacy underwrites the famous moral doctrine of "self-reliance," but it also helps to explain the painful problems of love and friendship.

Colacurcio’s close reading results in a two-volume compilation that reminds us of the importance of encountering and remembering Emerson for more than his famous sentences. Conversing with himself and other powerful minds on fundamental questions of human knowledge and behavior, Emerson produced brilliant essays—both philosophical and literary in the fullest sense—that are certainly worth reading closely and with new eyes.