View Full Version : Emerson and Taoism?

10-11-2005, 01:51 PM

I'm taking a class on Emerson, and have noticed some parallels between his philosophy and some of the Taoist texts I've read. Does anyone know where I might be able to find some confirmation of this? Or of a book/essay where this has been explored? I'm interested in writing my final paper on the topic, it would be great to have some resources to help me get started.

Thank you,


10-13-2005, 11:33 AM
Hi Lauren,

I definitely agree that Emerson's essays echo Eastern philosophy and have actually created a directed reading course in my graduate studies based on that idea. If you don't mind me asking, is your course devoted specifically to Emerson, and if so, what school offers this?

Also, I'm wondering why you chose Taoism in particular, as opposed to Zen Buddhism, or some other Eastern philosophies.

There are two books that could help you: "Emerson and Zen Buddhism" by John G. Rudy, and "Transcendental Self: A Comp. Study of Thoreau and the Psycho-Philosophy of Hinduism and Buddhism" by A.K.B. Pillai.

Please let me know if you come across any other scholarly texts and good luck!

10-22-2005, 11:06 PM

Yes, it is a class devoted to Emerson ("Emerson, Pragmatism, and Democracy) at Marlboro College in VT.

I've been studying Taoism independently; I started making connections between Emerson's understanding of Nature and some of the Taoist writings that I've been reading.

I have found some pretty interesting texts-

The one I'm reading right now is "The Orient in American Transcendentalism", which was originally published in the early 1930's. It explores Mary Moody Emerson's influence on the philosophical development of RWE, which I find pretty interesting.

Another that I just requested from UMass, "Mary Moody Emerson and the Origins of Transcendentalism: A Family History", seems like it will have a lot of interesting information. Actually, it looks pretty controversial; I think it may almost accuse Emerson of plagiarism. There's an article about it at: http://www.psu.edu/ur/NEWS/news/emerson.html

Thanks for the reply,


12-17-2007, 10:27 PM

You might want to take a llook at my new book, The Tao of Emerson, published on November 9th by ModernLibrary (Random House).

Richard Grossman