My Re-introduction to American New Thought

Jeff CarreiraBlog Posts3 Comments

My interest in the American philosophical tradition re-emerged a few years ago when Andrew Cohen – my spiritual teacher and the person for who I serve as personal assistant – was asked to speak at the Concord School of Philosophy. That school is a rustic wooden structure of one room with a small stage. It was built behind the house of Bronson Alcott a great American educational reformer of the 19th century who was also a close friend and associate of the American mystic Ralph Waldo Emerson.

 

In that building Allcott, Emerson (until he was too ill), and a host of other prominent thinkers met each summer between 1879 and 1888 to give lectures and discuss matters of philosophy and spirituality. Andrew and I arrived early and spent some time on our own inside the small room of the school. We both felt the physically tangible presence of the seriousness and profundity of the inquiry that had happened there so many years ago.

 

After this I began re-reading Emerson who had been one of my first spiritual heroes and I discovered the rich vein of alternative thought that has run a parallel course along side the more mainstream history of America. Even in Emerson’s time (1803 -1882) they were using the term “New Thought” to describe their ideas and ideals.

 

For the past few years my reading of American philosophy has moved from Emerson and the “Transcendentalists” of the 19th century, to William James and the “Pragmatists” of the early 20th century. And everything that I have read has helped me gain a deeper understanding of the teaching of Evolutionary Enlightenment that I practice today and to see that teaching in the context out of which it has emerged.

 

I hope that this blog will serve as a “virtual” Concord School of Philosophy for all who share my passion for Truth, Meaning and Purpose.

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John White
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John White

Not a comment on your blognote, Jeff–just an historical note which may be of interest. Bronson Alcott was born here in Connecticut, a few towns away from me. He came here to Cheshire in the 1830s to teach in a new school. There was already a school here, Cheshire Academy, then named the Episcopal Academy of Cheshire. Alcott was, as you note, an educational reformer. Among the innovations he practiced in his one-room, 30′ x 30′, schoolhouse were: – assigning tasks to students such as providing firewood and keeping the fire going – having the older children teach the younger… Read more »

Frank Luke
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Frank Luke

Hi John: I guess it’s always useful for others to question educators and it seems it happens all the time. We all want to micromanage the way our kids are being educated and get all nervous when we have qualms about it. What would be useful is to have PTA meetings that can result (in intelligently and in good faith) the rationale of teachers in assigning what they believe are educational issues. Every crisis, and disagreements can become so but are teaching opps to hash things out. There’s always a positive way and negtive way to see things and nay-sayers… Read more »

Frank Luke
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Frank Luke

American thought re: spiritual evolution I don’t think we can say it’s actually so new but I think evolutionary evolution American style is something that is 21st century, what with interconnectivity and the link to evolution being brought into the discussion. This awareness being promulgated seems to make traditional spirituality seem somewhat retro and with our newly aquired tech capacities, a world-wide audience can be brought to speed online. It would be hoped that promoting a global enlightened selfinterest in heightened and holistic spiritual consciousness will be a result. This means that there would develop the awareness that the personal,… Read more »