America's Anthroposophist

The means of ennobling everything sensuous, and to animate also the deadest facts through uniting them to the idea, Goethe said, is the finest privilege of our supersensuous origin. Man, how much soever the earth draws him, with its thousand myriad appearances, lifts yet a searching, longing look to the heaven which vaults over him in immeasurable spaces, whilst he feels deeply in himself that he is a citizen of that spiritual kingdom, our belief in which we must not repel or surrender. In this longing lies the secret of the eternal striving after an unknown aim. It is also the lever of our searching and thinking, - soft bond between poetry and reality.
Ralph Waldo Emerson 

Introduction to E-Book on Ralph Waldo Emerson 

Americans know Ralph Waldo Emerson as a key philosopher of the American Transcendentalist Movement, which has a patriotic ring to it due to the ideas of self-reliance that Emerson lectured upon and wrote about and his friend Henry David Thoreau embodied by living simply on Emerson's Walden Pond. Emerson was called the "Sage of Concord", the home of the American Revolution where he and his friends started an ideal American university that preached universalism and human intellect freedom.  
In 1836, Emerson met with  Frederic Henry Hedge George Putnam  and  George Ripley  to plan periodic gatherings of other like-minded intellectuals in Concord. This was the beginning of the  Transcendental Club , which invited women to be members. Margaret Fuller , Elizabeth Hoar and Sarah Ripley were early members of the Club along with Henry David Thoreau.
The Transcendental Club began to publish its flagship journal, The Dial, in July 1840 with George Ripley as the manager and Margaret Fuller as the first editor. Later, Emerson took over the journal utilizing it to promote talented young writers including Ellery Channing and Henry David Thoreau. Horace Greeley described the journal as the "most original and thoughtful periodical ever published in this country."  
In 1841, Emerson published Essays, his second book, which included the famous essay "Self-Reliance." This book, and its popular reception, laid the groundwork for his international fame. Bronson Alcott and Charles Lane purchased a farm in Harvard, Massachusetts in 1843 for what would become Fruitlands, a community based on the Utopian ideals inspired by Self-Reliance.  
Emerson made a living as a popular lecturer in New England and much of the rest of the country. He would give as many as 80 lectures per year and would eventually give over 1,500 lectures in his lifetime. In 1871, Emerson gave a series of lectures entitled, Natural History of the Intellect, which came to be called the Cambridge Course. This set of seventeen lectures was the longest sustained speaking engagement of his career and the most complex thematic material he had ever attempted to deliver in a public forum. He considered these lectures to be the "chief task of his life."
Emerson's seven volumes of essays, two books of poetry, and 1500 lectures made him one of the most well-known and beloved men of letters of his time. His profound influence on writers such as Hawthorne, Melville, Whitman, and Dickinson earned him the title of "Father of American Culture."
Emerson's germinal idea was that the omnipresent spiritual forces that stand just beyond the reach of our physical senses should be just as understandable as the natural world visible to our every day sight - that the study of spiritual laws should unveil the history of the mind as surely as the study of natural laws reveals the history of the earth. He elaborated what he meant by a "history of the mind" showing its action of the development of Intellect throughout human history and its outpouring in the great cultures of Persia, Egypt, Greece and the culture of modern times.  
The importance of the lecture series on the human intellect cannot be overemphasized. These lectures had been hidden among the thousands of pages of journals, notes, lectures, and unfinished books that were in Emerson's estate. We owe a debt of gratitude to the editors of Emerson's Natural History of the Intellect: The Last Lectures of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Maurice York and Rick Spaulding, for bringing the lectures to light and to Wrightwood Press for printing the book in 2008.  
In these last lectures of his career, Emerson walks us through the stages of the development of the human intellect. Accordingly, these stages are: common sense, thinking, virtuous thinking, imagination, inspiration, intuition and conscience. This ascent of human intellect is very similar as the same path described by Rudolf Steiner in his Anthroposophy. Steiner stated that:  
"America is to have a different form of Anthroposophy, and while it is presently woody and asleep, one should look to Emerson and his friends to understand it."
The development of the human intellect is described beautifully by Emerson in the Natural History of the Intellect as follows:  
"Yet I see the Intellect is a science of degrees, and that, as man is conscious of the law of vegetable and animal nature, so he is aware of an Intellect which overhangs his consciousness like a sky, of degree above degree, and heaven within heaven. In its last aspect, it is the supreme fact we know, is the commander of matter, and is the life and order by which matter exists."  
In his last lectures on the human intellect, Emerson set out to gather and structure the best thoughts of a project that spanned thirty-five years and ran as a constant thread throughout his active career as a teacher. The result is a vibrant fabric of thought, image, and word as startling for the boldness of its ideas as for its immediacy and relevance to the modern thinker.

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