Stories from the Big House

18 July 2012

160 years of Paul Carus

Paul Carus
Paul Carus was born 18 July 1852 in Ilsenburg, Germany. In 1887, he moved to America and soon after became the Editor-in-Chief of Open Court Publishing in La Salle, IL. In that role, he corresponded with and published the works of leaders in the fields of mathematics, philosophy, world religions, and related disciplines. 

Mary Hegeler Carus
and Paul Carus
He married Mary Hegeler in 1888 and lived in the Hegeler Carus Mansion for the rest of his life.

During his lifetime, Carus published 75 books and 1500 articles, mostly through Open Court Publishing Company. He wrote books and articles on history, politics, philosophy, religion, logic, mathematics, anthropology, science and social issues of his day.
In addition, Carus corresponded with many of the greatest minds of the late 19th and early 20th century. Carus made a copy of the letters he sent, and kept them with those he received as a record of complete correspondence.  These letters from great thinkers of his time, such as Leo Tolstoy, Thomas Edison, Nichola Tesla, Booker T. Washington, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Ernst Mach, Ernst Haeckel, John Dewey, and many more are now archived in the Special Collections at the Morris Library of Southern Illinois University, Carbondale.
The World Parliament of Religions-1893
In 1893, Carus offered a thirty-minute talk at the Parliament of World's Religions, which was held in conjunction with the World's Fair and Columbian Exposition in Chicago.  He later wrote that he never expected to be so moved by this event, which was the first time all known religions were brought together.  He spent the remainder of his life working to
build understanding between different religions.
In 1894, Dr. Carus wrote The Gospel of Buddha, the classic text on Buddhism that first introduced many Westerners to Buddha and his teachings. Because it was written in chapter and verse like the Christian "gospels," it was easily understood by Christian audiences who were unfamiliar with Buddhists teachings.

Dr. Carus' passion and commitment to the quest for religious and spiritual understanding was illustrated by his lifelong dedication to providing an open forum for the ideas of such diverse scholars as Pierce, Russell, Mach, Dharmapala, Swami Vivekananda, Shaku Soyen, D.T. Suzuki, and thousands of other great thinkers. As a thinker, writer and publisher, Carus became a bridge-builder between religions and science, philosophy and society, and Buddhism and Christianity.  
The legacy of Paul Carus is honored through the efforts of the Hegeler Carus Foundation, the Paul Carus Award for Interreligious Understanding  by the Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions (CPWR) and through Open Court Publishing, which is still operated by the Carus Family and specializes in scholarly and trade non-fiction, with an emphasis on philosophy, social issues, Eastern thought, education, psychology, Jungian analysis, and religion and science.

For more information on Paul Carus, the Parliament of World's Religions, The Hegeler Carus Mansion and the 1893 World's Fair and Columbian Exposition we suggest the following books, available at our gift shop.

The Gospel of Buddha
Catalyst for Controversy
The Devil in the White City (fiction)
Patina of Time

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