Original essay published in 1837. The writer was a just and wise spirit. Nature is a force that not even the strongest of men can stop. A man is related to all nature. As these guidelines as to what a scholar is and what a scholar thinks about are set by Emerson, the audience now must think again. An active person has a richer existence than a scholar who merely undergoes a second-hand existence through the words and thoughts of others.
He is the world's eye. But none is quite perfect. What is the one end which all means go to effect? Although bold, and perhaps farfetched, Emerson makes great over-arching point about thinking and thinkers. To create,--to create,--is the proof of a divine presence. On this we are quite unable to speculate. Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Margaret Fuller and Amos Bronson Alcott were main figures in the movement.
Public and private avarice make the air we breathe thick and fat. Whatever talents may be, if the man create not, the pure efflux of the Deity is not his;—cinders and smoke there may be, but not yet flame. All scholars are not Men Thinking, and not all Men Thinking are scholars. Although some people find such criticism to be an inferior philosophy, Emerson believes that it is valid and important. It was known as Transcendentalism. And labor is everywhere welcome; always we are invited to work; only be this limitation observed, that a man shall not for the sake of wider activity sacrifice any opinion to the popular judgments and modes of action.
Finally, he praises labor as valuable in and of itself, for such action is the material creatively used by thescholar. Man is surprised to find that things near are not less beautiful and wondrous than things remote. Man is thus metamorphosed into a thing, into many things. The ancient priesthood of the Britons in Cæsar's time. And whatsoever new verdict Reason from her inviolable seat pronounces on the passing men and events of to-day, — this he shall hear and promulgate. Its attractions are the keys which unlock my thoughts and make me acquainted with myself. 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.
Goethe, in this very thing the most modern of the moderns, has shown us, as none ever did, the genius of the ancients. Let us inquire what new lights, new events, and more days have thrown on his character, his duties, and his hopes. Let the grandeur of justice shine in his affairs. William Emerson, was liberal minded and taught Waldo at a young age to be open to new ideas. Each philosopher, each bard, each actor has only done for me, as by a delegate, what one day I can do for myself. The soul active sees absolute truth and utters truth, or creates.
Great books are mere records of such inspiration, and their value derives only, Emerson holds, from their role in inspiring or recording such states of the soul. Citing an Arabic proverb that says that one fig tree fertilizes another — just like one author can inspire another — Emerson suggests that true scholars should resort to books only when their own creative genius dries up or is blocked. Qualifying his previous insistence on individual creation, he says that he never underestimates the written word: Great thinkers are nourished by any knowledge, even that in books, although it takes a remarkably independent mind to read critically at all times. It remains to say somewhat of his duties. Without it he is not yet man. Instantly the book becomes noxious. A great Swedish theologian, naturalist, and mathematician, and the founder of a religious sect which has since his death become prominent among the philosophical schools of Christianity.
The ambitious soul sits down before each refractory fact; one after another reduces all strange constitutions, all new powers, to their class and their law, and goes on forever to animate the last fiber of organization, the outskirts of nature, by insight. The near explains the far. I hear therefore with joy whatever is beginning to be said of the dignity and necessity of labor to every citizen. Relation with Marx's future theory of alienation of labour and mechanization: no sense of a whole task or a whole product accomplished. Drudgery, calamity, exasperation, want, are instructors in eloquence and wisdom. He himself lived continually in such a lofty mental atmosphere that no one can come within the circle of his influence without being stimulated and elevated.
It is one central fire, which, flaming now out of the lips of Etna, lightens the capes of Sicily; and, now out of the throat of Vesuvius, illuminates the towers and vineyards of Naples. However, societyhas now subdivided to so great an extent that it no longer serves the good of its citizens. Emerson read avidly in Indian, especially Hindu, philosophy, and in Confucianism. For all this loss and scorn, what offset? So, a greater knowledge of nature results in a greater understanding of the self, and vice versa. The parallel structure of the last sentence in the quote conveys a sense of importance about the content of the quote. He observed that we originally classify things in nature i. He sees these wonders every day and is desensitized to them.