Emerson and Self-Culture

Emerson and Self-Culture

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How do I live a good life, one that is deeply personal and sensitive to others? John T. Lysaker suggests that those who take this question seriously need to reexamine the work of Ralph Waldo Emerson. In philosophical reflections on topics such as genius, divinity, friendship, and reform, Lysaker explores "self-culture" or the attempt to remain true to one's deepest commitments. He argues that being true to ourselves requires recognition of our thoroughly dependent and relational nature. Lysaker guides readers from simple self-absorption toward a more fulfilling and responsive engagement with the world.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 248 pages
  • 154.94 x 241.3 x 17.78mm | 408.23g
  • Bloomington, IN, United States
  • English
  • 025321971X
  • 9780253219718

Table of contents

List of Abbreviations

1. Taking Emerson Personally
2. The Genius of Nature
3. Reflecting Eloquence
4. Divining Becoming
5. On the Edges of Our Souls
6. Commended Strangers, Beautiful Enemies
7. Tending to Reform

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Review quote

It should be apparent . . . that this book is written in a profoundly Emersonian spirit, which means it is written in a spirit that refuses to back down from Emerson's provocations . . . . [and] as a provocation to think along with him, it must be judged a success.Nov. 17, 2008 -- Corey McCall * Elmira College * [This] book is excellent for those who seek a deeper understanding of Emerson or readers interested in concepts of individuality and self-exploration. It is essential reading for philosophers interested in the renewed debate over Emerson's philosophy.No. 7, September 2009 -- Marcus B. Schulzke * SUNY Albany * . . . inspired and inspiring, insightful and insight-provoking. . . . a remarkable and thought-provoking book . . . . What sets the work apart from its predecessors is its directly engaging touch: defying institutional conventions and constitutional preoccupations, Lysaker writes about and deals with Emerson in a personally involving manner. These essays in 'eloquent life' are beautifully in line with Emerson's view of culture as 'art of life'. The book is written in an eloquent and erudite style . . . . I am not sure whether Emersonian self-culture could be much more inspiringly advanced.Volume 44 Number 3 Su 2008 -- Heikki A. Kovalainen * University of Tampere * . . . complex, yet accessible to non-specialists.In the final analysis, Lysaker himself achieves in Emerson and Self-Culture and 'eloquence that can agitate.' Not only does he outline a series of nuanced approaches to self-culture in Emerson; like Emerson, he rhetorically provokes us towards greater possibilities for ourselves and our relations.Vol. 20.1 Spring 2009 -- Michael Jonik * University at Albany * At the end as at the beginning, then, there is much to learn from and to think about in this wide-ranging and important book.Vol. 22, No. 4, 2008 -- Russell Goodman * University of New Mexico * Proponents of standards reform in America's schools would benefit from the understanding of Emersonian individualism offered by John T. Lysaker in this book. -- William Proefriedt * Teachers College Record * . . . this book is written in a profoundly Emersonian spirit, which means it is written in a spirit that refuses to back down from Emerson's provocations, nor does it proceed through attempts to domesticate his language. It represents a laudable attempt to think along with Emerson, and to recommend him as a companion with whom to think. . . . as a provocation to think along with him, it must be judged a success.November 17, 2008 -- Corey McCall * Elmira College *
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About John T. Lysaker

John T. Lysaker is Associate Professor and Head of the Philosophy Department at the University of Oregon. He is author of You Must Change Your Life: Poetry, Philosophy, and the Birth of Sense.
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