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American Philosophy


Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences


Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson: The Making of A Democratic Intellectual by Peter S. Field (American Intellectual Culture: Rowman & Littlefield) In this original and fascinating book, Peter S. Field argues that Ralph Waldo Emerson is America's first democratic intellectual. Field contends that Emerson was a democrat in two senses: his writings are imbued with an optimistic, confident ethos, and more importantly, he acted the part of the democrat by bringing culture to all Americans. Despite an intellectual inheritance grounded in Federalist-Unionist elitism, Emerson embraced American democracy. His uniqueness, energy, and essential originality stemmed from his attempt to apply his high cultural education to an increasingly egalitarian society. In "Ralph Waldo Emerson", Peter Field connects Emerson and his remarkable creativity to the key political issue of the day: the nature of democracy and the role of intellectuals within a democratic society. This book will be of great value to American historians interested in the social and intellectual history of democracy.

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