“Altars to the Beautiful Necessity”: The Significance of F. W. J. Schelling’s “Philosophical Inquiries in the Nature of Human Freedom” in the Development of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Concept of Fate
- Journal of the History of Ideas
- University of Pennsylvania Press
- Volume 76, Number 1, January 2015
- pp. 115-137
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Ralph Waldo Emerson’s 1860 essay “Fate” has long been recognised as one of his most important essays. This paper is the first to examine the significance for Emerson of his reading of F. W. J. Shelling’s “Inquiry into the Nature of Human Freedom” using the unpublished manuscript of James Elliot Cabot’s translation of Schelling from the 1840s (Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe). I locate Emerson’s reading of the MS against the backdrop of his own intellectual development as recorded in his journals from 1822 to 1859, working out in what ways Schelling’s work influenced and supported his ever changing conception of fate.