Ralph Waldo Emerson Quotes

The poor and the low have their way of expressing the last facts of philosophy as well as you. "Blessed be nothing," and "The worse things are, the better they are," are proverbs which express the transcendentalism of common life.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. "Circles," Essays, First Series (1841, repr. 1847).
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Shall we then judge a country by the majority, or by the minority? By the minority, surely. 'Tis pedantry to estimate nations by the census, or by square miles of land, or other than by their importance to the mind of the time.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. "Considerations by the Way," The Conduct of Life (1860).
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Culture is the suggestion, from certain best thoughts, that a man has a range of affinities through which he can modulate the violence of any master-tones that have a droning preponderance in his scale, and succor him against himself. Culture redresses this imbalance, puts him among equals and superiors, revives the delicious sense of sympathy, and warns him of the dangers of solitude and repulsion.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. "Culture," The Conduct of Life (1860).
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When I converse with a profound mind, or if at any time being alone I have good thoughts, I do not at once arrive at satisfactions, as when, being thirsty, I drink water, or go to the fire, being cold: no! but I am first apprised of my vicinity to a new and excellent region of life. By persisting to read or to think, this region gives further sign of itself, as it were in flashes of light, in sudden discoveries of its profound beauty and repose, as if the clouds that covered it parted at intervals, and showed the approaching traveller the inland mountains, with the tranquil eternal meadows spread at their base, whereon flocks graze, and shepherds pipe and dance.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. "Experience," Essays, Second Series (1844). The vicinity metaphor, namely that perfection abuts us, is what Stanley Cavell calls "nextness." Next can mean what comes after something in a succession of things (succession being one of Emerson's most repeated words) and it can also mean that which stands near to us. Hence, for Emerson, truth or spirit or the better or perfection is always about us, and, of course, it is what we are (all) about.
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Jesus said, "When he looketh on her, he hath committed adultery." But he is an adulterer before he has yet looked on the woman, by the superfluity of animal, and the defect of thought, in his constitution. Who meets him, or who meets her, in the street, sees that they are ripe to be each other's victim.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. "Fate," The Conduct of Life (1860).
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Necessity does everything well. In our condition of universal dependence, it seems heroic to let the petitioner be the judge of his necessity, and to give all that is asked, though at great inconvenience.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. "Gifts," Essays, Second Series (1844).
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Man is the broken giant, and in all his weakness both his body and his mind are invigorated by habits of conversation with nature.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. "History," Essays, First Series (1841, repr. 1847).
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Neither years nor books have yet availed to extirpate a prejudice then rooted in me, that a scholar is the favorite of Heaven and earth, the excellency of his country, the happiest of men. His duties lead him directly into the holy ground where other men's aspirations only point. His successes are occasions of the purest joy to all men. Eyes is he to the blind; feet is he to the lame. His failures, if he is worthy, are inlets to higher advantages.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. Speech, July 24, 1838, at Dartmouth College. "Literary Ethics," Nature, Addresses, and Lectures (1849).
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I cannot spare water or wine, Tobacco-leaf, or poppy, or rose; From the earth-poles to the line, All between that works or grows, Every thing is kin of mine.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. "Mithridates," Poems (1847).
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Nothing divine dies. All good is eternally reproductive. The beauty of nature reforms itself in the mind, and not for barren contemplation, but for new creation.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), U.S. essayist, poet, philosopher. Nature, ch. 3 (1836, revised and repr. 1849).
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