Benjamin Paul Blood

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


He was born in Amsterdam, New York. His father, John Blood, was a prosperous landowner. Blood was known as an intelligent man but an unfocused one. He described 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 did indeed patent a swathing reaper,[1] along with other patents, and 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.

Early books included The Philosophy of Justice Between God and Man (1851) and Optimism: The Lesson of Ages (1860), a Christian mystical vision of the pursuit of happiness from Blood's distinctly American perspective; on the title page of the book, Blood described it as "A compendium of democratic theology, designed to illustrate necessities whereby all things are as they are, and to reconcile the discontents of men with the perfect love and power of ever-present God." During his lifetime he was best known for his poetry, which included The Bride of the Iconoclast, Justice, and The Colonnades. According to Christopher Nelson, Blood was a direct influence on William James' The Varieties of Religious Experience [2] as well on James's concept of Sciousness, prime reality consciousness without a sense of self.[3]

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 six children from the first marriage, and a daughter from the second.

Blood died in Amsterdam, New York. His final work, Pluriverse, was published posthumously.


Bates, E.S. Blood, Benjamin Paul. In: Allen Johnson, ed. Dictionary of American Biography, volume 2. New York: Scribner's, 1957, pp 383–384

Blood, Benjamin, Paul. Optimism: The Lesson of Ages. Guilford: [Eirini Press], reprinted 2009, ISBN 978-0-9799989-1-1

Bricklin, Jonathan, Ed., Sciousness, Guilford, CT: [Eirini Press], ISBN 978-0-9799989-0-4

Marks, Robert Walter. 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

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)

Wright, A.J. Benjamin Paul Blood: Anesthesia's Philosopher and Mystic. In: B. Raymond Fink, ed. The History of Anesthesia: Third International Symposium. Park Ridge, Ill.: Wood Library-Museum of Anesthesiology, 1992, pp 447–456

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Swathing-reaper".
  2. ^ 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)
  3. ^ Bricklin, Jonathan, Ed., Sciousness, Guilford, CT: Eirini Press