Ralph Waldo Emerson and the American Roots of Evolutionary Enlightenment

There has been a revolutionary re-orientation toward reality taking shape in human awareness over the past few centuries as a result of the growing recognition that consciousness, culture and the universe itself are all part of one evolving event. One of the consequences of this new understanding has been the birth of a new form of spirituality commonly referred to as Evolutionary Spirituality. This spiritual view includes the Conscious Evolution teachings of Barbara Marx Hubbard and the Integral spiritual approach of Ken Wilber. Evolutionary Enlightenment developed by Andrew Cohen is another example of an evolutionary spiritual path.  


These modern expressions of Evolutionary Spirituality are generally seen to have roots leading back to the German Idealist of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. I believe that they also have strong roots in American philosophy. Evolutionary Enlightenment in particular has strong ties to William James and the philosophy of Pragmatism. In addition the fundamental conceptions of Evolutionary Enlightenment bear an uncanny similarity to the spiritual teachings of the 19th century American mystic Ralph Waldo Emerson. In this essay I will outline these two spiritual views and the connections that exist between them. (read entire article)