Emerson and Self-Culture

Emerson and Self-Culture

John T. Lysaker
Distribution: World
Publication date: 03/10/2008
ISBN: 978-0-253-00022-4
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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.

Author Bio

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.


“A detailed propagation of Emersonianism, lively and sometimes personal in its prose, satisfying in its open, un—ironic commitment to a great precursor, and praiseworthy in its address to a topic that extends far beyond academic matters.”
 — Mark Bauerlein, Emory University

“A subtle, probing, and insightful reading of an author who appropriately becomes more powerful, less familiar, and more challenging than the figure whom so many of us have perhaps presumed an all too ready and settled familiarity.”
 — Vincent Colapietro, Penn State University

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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