Representative Men (1850)

Ralph Waldo Emerson Representative Men

Uses of Great Men

Lectures Uses of Great Men IT IS NATURAL to believe in great men. If the companions of our childhood should turn out to be heroes, and their condition regal it would not surprise us. All mythology opens with demigods, and the circumstance is high and poetic; that is, their genius is paramount. In the legends…

Read More

Plato; or, the Philosopher

Representative Men (1850) Plato; or, the Philosopher AMONG secular*(7) books, Plato only is entitled to Omar’s*(8) fanatical compliment to the Koran, when he said, “Burn the libraries; for their value is in this book.” These sentences contain the culture of nations; these are the corner-stone of schools; these are the fountain-head of literatures. A discipline…

Read More

Plato: New Readings

Representative Men (1850) Plato: New Readings The publication, in Mr. Bohn’s “Serial Library,” of the excellent translations of Plato, which we esteem one of the chief benefits the cheap press has yielded, gives us an occasion to take hastily a few more notes of the elevation and bearings of this fixed star; or to add…

Read More

Swedenborg; or, the Mystic

Swedenborg; Or The Mystic Swedenborg AMONG eminent persons, those who are most dear to men are not of the class which the economist calls producers: they have nothing in their hands; they have not cultivated corn, nor made bread; they have not led out a colony, nor invented a loom. A higher class, in the…

Read More

Montaigne; or, the Skeptic

Montaigne; or, the Skeptic Montaigne Skepticism EVERY FACT is related on one side to sensation, and on the other to morals. The game of thought is, on the appearance of one of these two sides, to find the other: given the upper, to find the under side. Nothing so thin but has these two faces,…

Read More

Shakspeare; or, the Poet

Representative Men (1850) Shakspeare; or, the Poet GREAT MEN are more distinguished by range and tent than by originality. If we require the originality which consists in weaving, like a spider, their web from their own bowels; in finding clay and making bricks and building the house; no great men are original. Nor does valuable…

Read More

Napoleon; Man of the World

Representative Men (1850) Napoleon; Man of the World AMONG the eminent persons of the nineteenth century, Bonaparte is far the best known and the most powerful; and owes his predominance to the fidelity with which he expresses the tone of thought and belief, the aims of the masses of active and cultivated men. It is…

Read More

Goethe; or, the Writer

Goethe; Or The Writer Which best describes emerson’s central message to his contemporaries in “self-reliance”? I FIND a provision in the constitution of the world for the writer, or secretary, who is to report the doings of the miraculous spirit of life that everywhere throbs and works. His office is a reception of the facts…

Read More

Notes

Representative Men (1850) Notes [Notes from the Centenary Edition of Emerson’s Complete Works, edited by his son, Edward Waldo Emerson.] * Jacob Behmen, or Boehme, a Silesian of humble birth in the sixteenth century, a mystic whose writings later attracted much attention. Mr. Emerson was early interested in his works and often mentions them. *(2)…

Read More