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Transcendental Roots

Emerson and Frederic Henry Hedge

Bryan Hileman, VCU

published, in 1833, a review of Coleridge's work in the Christian Examiner.  Hedge used this essay to delineate many of the major trends in the German philosophy of the time.  This essay opened Emerson up to a wealth of ideas and inspiration, which would exercise great influence over the essay Nature.  The transcendental idealism of Fichte was particularly important, though Hedge did not report his notions with complete accuracy.  For Fichte, “consciousness expresses the assertion of a self.” Emerson, as a product of his own development as well as Hedges misinterpretation, posits consciousness as “an act of pure seeing,” (Chai, 332) a less formalistic and more pantheistic reading.  Nevertheless, Hedge provided to Emerson both in print and by way of conversation a useful overview of contemporary German metaphysics.

For more information on Hedge, see this History of American Thought Site on him. Web Site

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