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Benjamin Paul Blood (1832-1919), from Pluriverse: An essay in the philosophy of pluralism, 1920. Courtesy Internet Archive.

Benjamin Paul Blood (November 21, 1832 - January 15, 1919) was an American poet and philosopher.


Blood was born in Amsterdam, New York, the son of John Blood, a prosperous landowner. Blood wrote of himself:

I was born here in Amsterdam. My father was a land holder of 700 acres [2.8 km²] here, adjoining the city on both sides of the river, and lived, as I now live, in a large brick house on the south bank of the Mohawk visible as you enter Amsterdam from the east. I was his only child, and went a good deal my own way. I ran to machinery, by fancy; patented among other devices a swathing reaper which is very successful. I was of loose and wandering ways. And was a successful gambler through the Tweed regime -- made 'bar'ls' of money, and threw it away. I was a fancy gymnast also, and have had some heavy fights, notable one of forty minutes with Ed. Mullett, whom I left senseless. This was mere fancy. I never lifted an angry hand against man, woman or child -- all fun -- for me....
I do farming in a way, but am much idle. I have been a sort of pet of the city, and think I should be missed. In a large vote taken by one of the daily papers here a month or so ago as to who were the 12 leading citizens, I was 6th in the 12, and sole in my class. So you see, if Sparta has many a worthier son, I am still boss in the department I prefer.

Blood wrote prolifically but the larger portion of his writing consisted of letters, either to local newspapers or to friends such as James Hutchison Stirling, Alfred Tennyson and William James (the above quote was from a letter to James).

H.M. Kallen wrote of Blood:

He was born in 1832 and lived for eighty-six years. During that time he wrote much, but unsystematically. His favorite form of publication was letters to newspapers, mainly local newspapers with a small circulation. These letters dealt with an astonishing diversity of subjects, from local petty politics or the tricks of spiritualist mediums to principles of industry and finance and profundities of metaphysics.

During his lifetime he was best known for his poetry, which included The Bride of the Iconoclast, Justice,and The Colonnades. Optimism: The Lesson of Ages (1860) is a Christian mystical vision of the pursuit of happiness from Blood's distinctly American perspective. According to Christopher Nelson, Blood was a direct influence on William James' The Varieties of Religious Experience [1] as well on James's concept of Sciousness, prime reality consciousness without a sense of self.[2]

After experiencing the anesthetic nitrous oxide during a dental operation, Blood concluded that the gas had opened his mind to new ideas and continued experimenting with it. In 1874, he published a 37-page pamphlet, The Anesthetic Revelation and the Gist of Philosophy.

He married twice; to Mary Sayles and, following her death, to Harriet Lefferts. He had a daughter from each marriage.

Blood died on January 15, 1919. His final work, Pluriverse, was published posthumously.



  • The Bride of the Iconoclast: A poem. Boston: J. Munroe, 1854.
  • The Colonnades: A poem. Amsterdam, NY: 1868.
  • Heirlooms: A book of poems (with John Edmund Willoughby). Albany, NY: F.S. Hills, 1924.


  • The Philosophy of Justice between God and man: Being an attempt to show from a candid examination of the Scripture and the powers of entities, that the existing philosophy of religion, both Calvinist and Arminian, is opposed to the Bible and to reason. New York: J.S. Taylor, 1851.
  • Optimism: The lesson of ages. Boston: Bela Marsh, 1860; Guilford: Eirini Press 2009. ISBN 978-0-9799989-1-1
  • Napoleon I: A historical lecture. Amsterdam, NY: C.P. Winegar, 1863.
  • The Anaesthetic Revelation and the gist of philosophy. New Amsterdam, NY: 1874.
  • "What is Truth?" Journal of Speculative Philosophy, 10:1 (January 1876), 89-94.
  • "Philosophical Reveries," Journal of Speculative Philosophy, 20:1 (January 1886), 1-53.
  • A Letter to Workingmen: On hard times and the political situation. New Amsterdam, NY: 1878.
  • The Democratic Heart: A lesson in conservative sentiment and policy. Amsterdam, NY: Sentinel Printing, 1882.
  • A Capitalist's View of Socialism. New York: Park, Austin & Lipscombe, 1916; Garden City, NY: Country Life Press, 1919.
  • Pluriverse: An essay in the philosophy of pluralism (introduction by Horace Meyer Kallen). Boston: Marshall Jones, 1920; London: Kegan Paul, 1921.

Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy WorldCat.[3]

See also[]


  • E.J. Bates, "Blood, Benjamin Paul." In: Allen Johnson, ed. Dictionary of American Biography, volume 2. New York: Scribner's, 1957, pp 383–384
  • Sciousness (edited by Jonathan Bricklin). Guilford, CT: Eirini Press. ISBN 978-0-9799989-0-4
  • Robert Walter Marks, The Philosophic Faith of Benjamin Paul Blood: A study of the thought and times of an American mystic. Ph.D. dissertation, New School for Social Research, 1953
  • Christopher Nelson, "The Artificial Mystic State of Mind: WJ, Benjamin Paul Blood, and the nitrous-oxide variety of religious experience," Streams of William James, Volume 4, Issue 3 (Fall 2002), William James Society.
  • A.J. Wright, "Benjamin Paul Blood: Anesthesia's Philosopher and Mystic," The History of Anesthesia: Third international symposium. (edited by B. Raymond Fink). Park Ridge, IL: Wood Library-Museum of Anesthesiology, 1992, 447–456.


  1. Nelson, Christopher. The Artificial Mystic State of Mind: WJ, Benjamin Paul Blood, and the Nitrous-Oxide Variety of Religious Experience." "Streams of William James. The William James Society. Volume 4, Issue 3 (Fall 2002)
  2. Brickli, Jonathan, Ed., Sciousness, Guilford, CT: Eirini Press
  3. Search results: Benjamin Paul Blood, WorldCat, OCLC Online Computer Library Center Inc. Web, July 8, 2013.

External links[]

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