Philosophy 3387 American Philosophy Unit One

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Dr. Cynthia Freeland

Section #10061, MW 1-2:30 p.m., 12 Agnes Arnold Hall

402 AH, 743-2993,

Course Schedule

Unit One: The Pre-History of Pragmatism (Thoreau and Emerson)

M August 19 Introduction

W Aug. 21 Thoreau and Cavell (lecture)

Recommended readings: Thoreau: Re-read parts of Walden; Selections from Stanley Cavell, The Senses of Walden

M Aug. 26 Emerson (Guest lecture, Professor David Mikics)

Reading Assignment: R.W. Emerson (in Goodman), "Circles," pp. 22-33

W Aug. 28 Cavell on Emerson

Reading Assignment: Stanley Cavell (in Goodman), "Thinking of Emerson"

Lecture Notes

M Sept. 2 (No Class--Labor Day)

W Sept. 4 West on Emerson

Reading Assignment: Cornel West, Ch. 1, "The Emersonian Prehistory of American Pragmatism," pp. 9-41.

M Sept. 9 Unit One Essay Due: See topic below.


1. A short (5-7 page) take-home exam essay on Emerson.

Discuss the following claim:

Emerson is seen very differently by Stanley Cavell and Cornel West. West treats Emerson as an "organic intellectual" who launches the American "evasion" of philosophy. Cavell treats Emerson as a philosopher akin to Wittgenstein or Heidegger, someone who philosophizes about "the logic or epistemology of moods."

2. Each student must make at least one contribution to a collaborative class World Wide Web Project for Unit One. Details will be discussed in class. The Web project for Unit One will include information on figures and topics such as: Thoreau; Emerson; American Transcendentalism; Transcendentalism and Eastern Philosophy; The Alcotts; Brook Farm; Margaret Fuller; related American authors (Hawthorne, Melville).

On-Line Course Resources

Off Campus

Emerson (includes many texts, photos, etc.)

Thoreau (includes texts)

Pragmatism and Logical Positivism, Course Materials from VPI by Gary Hardcastle

On Campus

Student-Created Web Resources:

Background of American Philosophy in European Philosophy

American Transcendentalism

Emerson and Eastern Thought

Cavell on Walden

Thoughts on Emerson, "Circles"

Emerson, Rorty, and Harold Bloom

Cornel West on Emerson and Power

Cornel West on Emerson as "Organic Intellectual"

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October 7, 1996 - 12:44 PM