I’m interested in especially first-time readers of Emerson’s Nature (1836), in hearing your comments, thoughts, initial reactions (and perhaps frustrations with a dense and dazzlingly opaque text!). What resonates with you in the 21st century in this material? Just like we asked of Swedenborg, how might Emerson be “translated” forward, and inform a progressive modern environmental ethos?
As part of this second question, I am interested in the particular critique often lobbied by ecocritics and environmentalists against Emerson — that his philosophy of nature is hopelessly anthropocentric. That’s something we might also see as a charge easily applicable to Swedenborg. In these sections from “Nature,” are there moments that seem to support this complaint? And/or work against it?
Or — to be more provocative — might Emerson and Swedenborg show how this anthropocentric critique is flawed, missing sight of some bigger picture?
Challenging questions with no clear easy answers. Before we try and tackle any of that, let’s get some thoughts flowing around Emerson’s “Nature” and moments of resonance (or dissonance) with our moment in the (quickly warming) 21st century.