We should see the world clearly without the influence and tradition or history. Books are the best type of the influence of the past, and perhaps we shall get at the truth, -- learn the amount of this influence more conveniently, -- by considering their value alone. He can still fall back on this elemental force of living them. By the 1850s, Emerson was an outspoken advocate of abolition in lectures across New England and the Midwest and continued lecturing widely on a number of different topics—eighty lectures in 1867 alone. Let him look into its eye and search its nature, inspect its originsee the whelping of this lion which lies no great way back; he will then find in himself a perfect comprehension of its nature and extent; he will have made his hands meet on the other side and can henceforth defy it and pass on superior.
Free should the scholar befree and brave. Each age, it is found, must write its own books; or, rather, each generation for the next succeeding. Again, Emerson relates his individual vision to his overall vision for America. Matter and spirit are not opposed but reflect a critical unity of experience. They are the kings of the world who give the color of their present thought to all nature and all art, and persuade men, by the cheerful serenity of their carrying the matter, that this thing which they do is the apple which the ages have desired to pluck, now at last ripe, and inviting nations to the harvest.
The main enterprise of the world for splendor, for extent, is the upbuilding of a man. Later developments in his thinking shifted the emphasis from unity to the balance of opposites: power and form, identity and variety, intellect and fate. But genius looks forward: the eyes of man are set in his forehead, not in his hindhead; man hopes, genius creates. Ever the winds blow; ever the grass grows. Inaction is cowardice, but there can be no scholar without the heroic mind. The poet chanting was felt to be a divine man.
Emerson finds that contemporary Christianity deadens rather than activates the spirit. The preamble of thought, the transition through which it passes from the unconscious to the conscious, is action. The office of the scholar is to cheer, to raise, and to guide men by showing them facts amidst appearances. In the degenerate state, when the victim of society, he tends to become a mere thinker, or, still worse, the parrot of other mens thinking. But what is classification but the perceiving that these objects are not chaotic, and are not foreign, but have a law which is also a law of the human mind? Its laws are the laws of his own mind.
Self-reliance appears in the essay in his discussion of respect. The writer was a just and wise spirit: henceforward it is settled, the book is perfect; as love of the hero corrupts into worship of his statue. He kept lists of literary, philosophical, and religious thinkers in his journals and worked at categorizing them. Men are become of no account. It presently learns that since the dawn of history there has been a constant accumulation and classifying of facts. The odds are that the whole question is not worth the poorest thought which the scholar has lost in listening to the controversy. This is a total act.
It is a shame to him if his tranquility, amid dangerous times, arise from the presumption that like children and women his is a protected class; or if he seek a temporary peace by the diversion of his thoughts from politics or vexed questions, hiding his head like an ostrich in the flowering bushes, peeping into microscopes, and turning rhymes, as a boy whistles to keep his courage up. It came to him short-lived actions; it went out from him immortal thoughts. That great principle of Undulation in nature, that shows itself in the inspiring and expiring of the breath; in desire and satiety; in the ebb and flow of the sea; in day and night; in heat and cold; and as yet more deeply ingrained in every atom and every fluid, is known to us under the name of Polarity. Colleges and books only copy the language which the field and the work-yard made. Character is higher than intellect.
We are lined with eyes. Manlike let him turn and face it. Placed in his Man Thinking: An Oration 1841 , the essay found its final home in Nature; Addresses, and Lectures 1849. I am glad to the brink of fear. The first in time and the first in importance of the influences upon the mind is that of nature. Ever the winds blow; ever the grass grows.
In fact, I believe each individual passes through all three. Biography Ralph Waldo Emerson was born on May 25, 1803, in Boston to Ruth Haskins Emerson and William Emerson, pastor of Boston's First Church. I deny not, however, that a revolution in the leading idea may be distinctly enough traced. In silence, in steadiness, in severe abstraction, let him hold by himself; add observation to observation, patient of neglect, patient of reproach; and bide his own time, — happy enough, if he can satisfy himself alone, that this day he has seen something truly. While Emerson does not accept in principle social progress as such, his philosophy emphasizes the progress of spirit, particularly when understood as development.
The discerning will read, in his Plato or Shakespeare, only that least part,—only the authentic utterances of the oracle;—all the rest he rejects, were it never so many times Plato's and Shakespeare's. The sluggish and perverted mind of the multitude, always slow to open to the incursions of Reason, having once so opened, having once received this book, stands upon it, and makes an outcry if it is disparaged. After all, Emerson states, the laws of nature are equivalent to the laws of the mind. But when the intervals of darkness come, as come they must,—when the soul seeth not, when the sun is hid and the stars withdraw their shining,—we repair to the lamps which were kindled by their ray, to guide our steps to the East again, where the dawn is. They impress us with the conviction that one nature wrote and the same reads. Ever the winds blow; ever the grass grows.