The Complete Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson - by R.W. Emerson Institute, Jim Manley, Director -

The Conscious Order

Welcome! This new section of is offered as a testament to Ralph Waldo Emerson's genius and vision. His remarkable contribution to philosophy centers on his conviction that the ground state of the universe was consciousness rather than matter. He set forth this idea in Nature and in the important essay "The Transcendentalist."

In that essay he said, "As thinkers, mankind have ever divided into two sects, Materialists and Idealists; the first class founding on experience, the second on consciousness; the first class beginning to think from the data of the senses, the second class perceive that the senses are not final, and say, the senses give us representations of things, but what are the things themselves, they cannot tell. The materialist insists on facts, on history, on the force of circumstances, and the animal wants of man; the idealist on the power of Thought and of Will, on inspiration, on miracle, on individual culture. These two modes of thinking are both natural, but the idealist contends that his way of thinking is in higher nature."


The Complete Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson