Ralph Waldo Emerson Quotes

For the most part, only the light characters travel. Who are you that have no task to keep you at home?
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. "Culture," The Conduct of Life (1860).
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Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. Essays, "Circles," First Series (1841).
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To me, however, the question of the times resolved itself into a practical question of the conduct of life. How shall I live? We are incompetent to solve the times. Our geometry cannot span the huge orbits of the prevailing ideas, behold their return, and reconcile their opposition. We can only obey our own polarity.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. "Fate," The Conduct of Life (1860).
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Then, though I prize my friends, I cannot afford to talk with them and study their visions, lest I lose my own. It would indeed give me a certain household joy to quit this lofty seeking, this spiritual astronomy, or search of stars, and come down to warm sympathies with you; but then I know well I shall mourn always the vanishing of my mighty gods.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. "Friendship," Essays, First Series (1841, repr. 1847).
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A painter told me that nobody could draw a tree without in some sort becoming a tree; or draw a child by studying the outlines of its forms merely,—but by watching for a time his motions and plays, the painter enters into his nature and can then draw him at will in every attitude.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. "History," Essays, First Series (1841, repr. 1847).
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Sorrow makes us all children again, destroys all differences of intellect. The wisest knows nothing.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. Journals, vol. 8, entry for Jan. 30, 1842 (1909-1914).
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Let the amelioration in our laws of property proceed from the concession of the rich, not from the grasping of the poor. Let us understand that the equitable rule is, that no one should take more than his share, let him be ever so rich.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. Speech, January 25, 1841, before the Mechanics' Apprentices' Library Association, Boston, Massachusetts. "Man the Reformer," Nature, Addresses, and Lectures (1849).
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Is not prayer also a study of truth,—a sally of the soul into the unfound infinite? No man ever prayed heartily, without learning something. But when a faithful thinker, resolute to detach every object from personal relations, and see it in the light of thought, shall, at the same time, kindle science with the fire of the holiest affections, then will God go forth anew into creation.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. Nature, ch. 8 (1836, revised and repr. 1849). Emerson links science with religion in one, undivided mode of knowing.
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The reason why any one refuses his assent to your opinion, or his aid to your benevolent design, is in you: he refuses to accept you as a bringer of truth, because, though you think you have it, he feels that you have it not. You have not given him the authentic sign.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. Lecture, March 3, 1884, in Amory Hall, Boston, Massachusetts. "New England Reformers," Essays, Second Series (1844).
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A philosopher must be more than a philosopher.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. "Plato; or, the Philosopher," Representative Men (1850).
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