Emerson’s Eastern Education


Shoji Goto, PhDProfessor Emeritus, American Literature, Rikkyo University, Tokyo, Japan

Series: World Philosophy
BISAC: EDU040000

This book tries to approach Emerson’s way of thinking, or his philosophical method, in his writings and Transcendentalism. The motto of Emerson’s thinking is: “Go abroad and mix in affairs” (Montaigne, also known as “the Skeptic”), since he observes no national boundaries, and absorbs the foreign and the different. (Imprint: Nova)

Table of Contents




Introduction: Emerson Among Orientalists

Chapter 1. Looking for the Law of Nature

Chapter 2. The Eternal One

Chapter 3. Unity and Equality

Epilogue: For the Transcendent Soul



Audience: Graduate students, high level college students, Emerson scholars, and general readers who are interested in Emerson, Thoreau, and the American Transcendentalism.

“Shoji Goto makes a wide claim in this study: not only that Emerson’s “world idealism” reflects his immersion in Asian scriptures, but also that Europeans who profoundly influenced him, Plato and Heraclitus, wrote long before in dialogue with Asia. A Japanese scholar deeply learned across languages and cultures, Goto follows a vast journey of translators and thinkers in cultural dialogue.”Phyllis Cole, Pennsylvania State University, USA

“In an impressive display of erudition and scholarship, Professor Goto explores Emerson’s “Eastern education” across a wide range of sources and contexts. Tracing the complex history of Emerson’s-as well as of many of his contemporaries’-profound engagement with the Orient and the ways it shaped his philosophy of “fluxions and mobility,” this book renews our understanding of Transcendentalist metaphysics.” – <strong>Thomas Constantinesco, (Université Paris-Diderot / Institut Universitaire de France)

“Goto’s study is comprehensive in its range, and is particularly notable for its cogent explanation of how Emerson merged his Eastern sources into the synthesis of romantic ideas that came to be known as Transcendentalism. Goto’s depiction of Emerson as a student of ancient wisdom, and in particular, of the ancient wisdom of Asia, will be a valuable resource for readers of Emerson, and open new insights into his philosophy and its origins.” David M. Robinson, Oregon State University, USA

“Professor Goto, Japan’s pre-eminent American Studies scholar, brilliantly reimagined Transcendentalism as an original belief system profoundly based in the contemplations of the classic Asian philosophers. This painstaking and erudite new study traces the ramified influences of the 18th-century writers and orientalists, whose researches and translations launched Ralph Waldo Emerson on what he called his “Eastern education.” This exceptional work will serve as an enduring resource for Emersonians the world over.” – <strong>Randall Conrad, The Thoreau Project, Lexington, MA, USA

“In this learned and synthetic study of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Eastern enthusiasm,” Shoji Goto draws together an astounding array of neglected philosophical influences, from Heraclitus, Zoroaster, and Hafiz to the Bhagavad Gita and the Vishnu Purana, to challenge the idea that Emerson was primarily a student of Platonic idealism. Goto traces Emerson’s key doctrines through the notebooks, essays, sermons, and lectures to show how Emerson read eclectically but wrote creatively, transforming such enduring concepts as Unity, Equality, and the Over-Soul into the “vast and enlarging Hope” of his hybridized yet distinctly American Transcendentalism.”Robert D. Habich, Ball State University, USA

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