The Passage to Cosmos: Alexander von Humboldt and the Shaping of America

Laura Dassow Walls


The Passage to Cosmos: Alexander von Humboldt and the Shaping of America

The Passage to Cosmos: Alexander von Humboldt and the Shaping of America

  • Title: The Passage to Cosmos: Alexander von Humboldt and the Shaping of America
  • Author: Laura Dassow Walls
  • ISBN: 9780226871820
  • Page: 304
  • Format: Hardcover



Explorer, scientist, writer, and humanist, Alexander von Humboldt was the most famous intellectual of the age that began with Napoleon and ended with Darwin With Cosmos, the book that crowned his career, Humboldt offered to the world his vision of humans and nature as integrated halves of a single whole In it, Humboldt espoused the idea that, while the universe of natu Explorer, scientist, writer, and humanist, Alexander von Humboldt was the most famous intellectual of the age that began with Napoleon and ended with Darwin With Cosmos, the book that crowned his career, Humboldt offered to the world his vision of humans and nature as integrated halves of a single whole In it, Humboldt espoused the idea that, while the universe of nature exists apart from human purpose, its beauty and order, the very idea of the whole it composes, are human achievements cosmos comes into being in the dance of world and mind, subject and object, science and poetry Humboldt s science laid the foundations for ecology and inspired the theories of his most important scientific disciple, Charles Darwin In the United States, his ideas shaped the work of Emerson, Thoreau, Poe, and Whitman They helped spark the American environmental movement through followers like John Muir and George Perkins Marsh And they even bolstered efforts to free the slaves and honor the rights of Indians Laura Dassow Walls here traces Humboldt s ideas for Cosmos to his 1799 journey to the Americas, where he first experienced the diversity of nature and of the world s peoples and envisioned a new cosmopolitanism that would link ideas, disciplines, and nations into a global web of knowledge and cultures In reclaiming Humboldt s transcultural and transdisciplinary project, Walls situates America in a lively and contested field of ideas, actions, and interests, and reaches beyond to a new worldview that integrates the natural and social sciences, the arts, and the humanities To the end of his life, Humboldt called himself half an American, but ironically his legacy has largely faded in the United States The Passage to Cosmos will reintroduce this seminal thinker to a new audience and return America to its rightful place in the story of his life, work, and enduring legacy.


Recent Comments "The Passage to Cosmos: Alexander von Humboldt and the Shaping of America"

This was a fairly densely written, academic, "ecocrit" style book. Perhaps it was over-reaching in its "Humboldt's impact." But I really enjoyed the intellectual romp through the 1800s. Just about everyone was tied in (perhaps a bit liberally or even "stretched-to-fit"). But I do agree with the thesis that Humboldt had an amazing impact and is unjustifiably "forgotten" by history. The intellectual ties with Jefferson, Franklin, Muir, Poe, Emerson, Thoreau, Whitman, continental thought, more, and [...]

Walls gives an analysis of the work, ideas and influence of Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859), organized around the concept of Kosmos. Essentially, the idea of von Humboldt was that science should not be simply about finding laws or principles from which phenomena could be derived, but should be about studying the phenomena themselves in their multiplicity, historical development and interconnections; in other words, a view of science that is more modeled on historical geology, palaeontolgy or [...]

This is probably the best biography I have ever read. It begins with dates and deeds and does so well. Then there is an intermezzo chapter, which leads the balance of this book which is about Humboldt's impact on other people and his place in history.There are copius notes and many of the books on my wish list were referred to in Passage to Cosmos.

Greg, this is one non fiction you might enjoy


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    Published :2018-09-15T16:00:48+00:00