Emerson: Political Writings
Kenneth S. Sacks
Cambridge University Press, May 22, 2008 - Political Science - 237 pages
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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Page 14 - 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.
Page 17 - 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.