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Natural History of the Intellect: the Last Lectures of Ralph Waldo Emerson

18.95 22.95

By Ralph Waldo Emerson
Edited by Maurice York and Rick Spaulding
Paperback, 6"x9", 164 pages
ISBN 9780980119015

At his death in 1882, Emerson left behind a trove of unpublished material extraordinary for its quantity and depth-hundreds upon thousands of pages of journals, letters, notebooks, and lectures that dwarf his nine books in volume and scope but were never seen during his lifetime. His most important manuscripts have gradually filtered through to the public over the course of the last hundred and twenty-five years, save one: the final product of what he himself considered to be the "chief task of his life." Here for the first time in print are the last lectures of Emerson's career, a cycle of seventeen that he delivered at Harvard University in 1871. In his last lectures, Emerson set out to gather and structure the best thoughts of a project that spanned thirty-three years and ran as a constant, though largely hidden, thread throughout his active career. The result is a vibrant fabric of thought, image, and word as startling for the boldness of its pattern as for its immediacy and relevance to the modern reader. The powers of the mind and states of consciousness, the transcendency of physical into spiritual laws, the governing influence of Ideas in the history of humankind, and the ethical duty laid upon those who recognize the Good Cause as their own-all serve as themes and elements of Emerson's portrait of a practical understanding of the ­spiritual foundations of human experience and self-development.

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By Ralph Waldo Emerson
Edited by Maurice York and Rick Spaulding
Paperback, 6"x9", 164 pages
ISBN 9780980119015

Listen to co-editor Maurice York discuss Emerson's last lectures on North Carolina Public Radio's The State of Things with Frank Stasio.

At his death in 1882, Emerson left behind a trove of unpublished material extraordinary for its quantity and depth—hundreds upon thousands of pages of journals, letters, notebooks, and lectures that dwarf his nine books in volume and scope but were never seen during his lifetime. His most important manuscripts have gradually filtered through to the public over the course of the last hundred and twenty-five years, save one: the final product of what he himself considered to be the “chief task of his life.” Here for the first time in print are the last lectures of Emerson’s career, a cycle of seventeen that he delivered at Harvard University in 1871.

Known to his contemporaries as the “Sage of Concord” and to generations since as the founder of American culture, Emerson is best known for the works of his early and middle years. The high idealism and finely crafted prose of his published works have resonated with a world-wide readership today just as the hundreds of lectures he gave to audiences from Massachusetts to California made him one of the most famous and sought-after speakers of his time. His outspoken challenges to convention and authority, his gentle urging to value the quiet of the individual thought over the roar of the crowd, his persistent gesture towards the divine proportions of the human being revealed through nature, gave voice to an inspiration as uniquely American as the political ideals that formed the nation.

In his last lectures, Emerson set out to gather and structure the best thoughts of a project that spanned thirty-three years and ran as a constant, though largely hidden, thread throughout his active career. The result is a vibrant fabric of thought, image, and word as startling for the boldness of its pattern as for its immediacy and relevance to the modern reader. The powers of the mind and states of consciousness, the transcendency of physical into spiritual laws, the governing influence of Ideas in the history of humankind, and the ethical duty laid upon those who recognize the Good Cause as their own—all serve as themes and elements of Emerson’s portrait of a practical understanding of the ­spiritual foundations of human experience and self-development.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Preface

1. INTRODUCTORY
2. TRANSCENDENCY OF PHYSICS
3. INSTINCT AND PERCEPTION
4. MEMORY
5. IMAGINATION
6. MEMORY--PART II
7. INSPIRATION
8. COMMON SENSE
9. WIT AND HUMOR
10. GENIUS
11. DEMONOLOGY
12. TRANSCENDENCY OF POETRY
13. LAWS OF MIND
14. METRES OF MIND
15. WILL
16. CONDUCT OF THE INTELLECT
17. RELATION OF INTELLECT TO MORALS