Emerson: Political Writings
Ralph Waldo Emerson is the central figure in American political thought. Until recently, his vast influence was most often measured by its impact on literature, philosophy and aesthetics. In particular, Emerson is largely responsible for introducing idealism into America in the form of living one's life self-reliantly. But in the past few decades, critics have increasingly come to realize that Emerson played a key role in abolitionism and other social movements around the time of the American Civil War. This selection for Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought highlights not only Emerson's practical political involvement, but also examines the philosophical basis of his political writings. All of the usual series features are included, with a concise introduction, notes for further reading, chronology and apparatus designed to assist undergraduate and graduate readers studying this greatest of American thinkers for the first time.
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27 psl. - We will walk on our own feet ; we will work with our own hands ; we will speak our own minds.
47 psl. - BY the rude bridge that arched the flood, Their flag to April's breeze unfurled, Here once the embattled farmers stood And fired the shot heard round the world.
70 psl. - I have no churlish objection to the circumnavigation of the globe, for the purposes of art, of study, and benevolence, so that the man is first domesticated, or does not go abroad with the hope of finding somewhat greater than he knows. He who travels to be amused, or to get somewhat which he does not carry, travels away from himself, and grows old even in youth among old things. In Thebes, in Palmyra, his will and mind have become old and dilapidated as they. He carries ruins to ruins.
14 psl. - Each age, it is found, must write its own books ; or rather, each generation for the next succeeding. The books of an older period will not fit this. Yet hence arises a grave mischief. The sacredness which attaches to the act of creation, the act of thought, is instantly transferred to the record.
77 psl. - The fallacy lay in the immense concession that the bad are successful ; that justice is not done now. The blindness of the preacher consisted in deferring to the base estimate of the market of what constitutes a manly success, instead of confronting and convicting the world from the truth ; announcing the Presence of the Soul ; the omnipotence of the Will ; and so establishing the standard of good and ill, of success and falsehood, and summoning the dead to its present tribunal.
83 psl. - All things are double, one against another. - Tit for tat; an eye for an eye; a tooth for a tooth; blood for blood; measure for measure; love for love. - Give and it shall be given you. - He that watereth shall be watered himself. - What will you have? quoth God; pay for it and take it.
60 psl. - See the line from a sufficient distance, and it straightens itself to the average tendency. Your genuine action will explain itself and will explain your other genuine actions. Your conformity explains nothing.
64 psl. - Life only avails, not the having lived. Power ceases in the instant of repose; it resides in the moment of transition from a past to a new state, in the shooting of the gulf, in the darting to an aim. This one fact the world hates, that the soul becomes', for that for ever degrades the past, turns all riches to poverty, all reputation to a shame, confounds the saint with the rogue, shoves Jesus and Judas equally aside.
44 psl. - I look for the new Teacher, that shall follow so far those shining laws, that he shall see them come full circle ; shall see their rounding complete grace ; shall see the world to be the mirror of the soul ; shall see the identity of the law of gravitation with purity of heart...
17 psl. - Of course, there is a portion of reading quite indispensable to a wise man. History and exact science he must learn by laborious reading. Colleges, in like manner, have their indispensable office, - to teach elements. But they can only highly serve us, when they aim not to drill, but to create; when they gather from far every ray of various genius to their hospitable halls, and, by the concentrated fires, set the hearts of their youth on flame.