Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
American Spaces of ConversionThe Conductive Imaginaries of Edwards, Emerson, and James$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Andrea Knutson

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780195370928

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195370928.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.oxfordscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2019. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 14 October 2019

Ralph Waldo Emerson and the “Universal Impulse to Believe”

Ralph Waldo Emerson and the “Universal Impulse to Believe”

(p.93) Chapter 3 Ralph Waldo Emerson and the “Universal Impulse to Believe”
American Spaces of Conversion

Andrea Knutson

Oxford University Press

Chapter 3 examines the ways that Emerson aestheticizes the conversion process through the literary style of his essays and Nature, thereby inviting his readers to experience the effects of “transparency” in their search for meaning between the words, sentences, and paragraphs of his work. It looks at the ways that the currents of transcendentalism and natural philosophy, the idea of reason, and his visit to the Jardin des Plantes in 1833 informed his conceptualization of the workings of consciousness and argues that Emerson fosters a method of thinking, or habit of mind, through a style that compels readers to “minister” to themselves, to become natural philosophers of the soul in their search for meaning and stability in the universe. This chapter builds on the previous two by placing Emerson in line with Shepard and Edwards who saw the work of personal and cultural renewal as a matter of converting semantics and argues that in Emerson’s work we see (or experience) this connection most overtly in his troping of language because it provokes disorientation and the need to attach new meaning to particular words and ideas, the ministerial imperative taken on by Shepard after the Puritan migration to New England.

Keywords:   Ralph Waldo Emerson, conversion, transcendentalism, method, consciousness, natural philosophy, reason, transparency, Nature

Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .