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The Metempsychotic Mind: Emerson and Consciousness
Abstract

Abstract:

This article argues that Ralph Waldo Emerson employs metempsychosis (reincarnation or the transmigration of the soul into successive bodies) as a figurative template for human consciousness. Mapping various traditions from Hinduism, Pythagoreanism, Platonism, and Neoplatonism onto the vastness of the geological and biological records, Emerson translates metaphysics for modernity: he depicts the soul's journey through the chronological sequence of history as a poetic process that culminates in a tenuous form of self-knowledge.