Robert D. Richardson

33rd annual Key West Literary Seminar

HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN: Literature of the Spirit
January 8–11, 2015

“Literature of the Spirit is difficult to get both hands around because we mean so many different things by spirit and because the inner life—a life of the spirit—is different for each individual. For many of us, a life of the spirit is not a rejection of science or matter or ordinary reality, but is an affirmative, even a religious—but definitely unchurchy—approach to living in this world without being of it. Plato’s valuing ideas above things affirms the primacy of spirit; so does Hegel’s notion of history as the unfolding, the incarnation, of spirit in time and space. Emerson’s saying that the mind common to the universe is disclosed to each individual through his or her own mind is an affirmation of a democratic notion of spirit. Henry Thoreau speaks for many of us when he says, in his personal credo, “I believe in the forest, and in the meadow, and in the night in which the corn grows.” Anyone seeking to lead a principled, plausible life pursuing a worthy goal knows the difference between the aims of the spirit and the obstacles of brute material fact. William James put it best for me when he said that we are all free to live as if there were a just and benevolent spirit overseeing us and our world.”
(Robert D. Richardson)


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Selected Bibliography

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Online Resources

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