Emerson Essay History Summary

Without hurry, without rest, the human spirit goes forth from the beginning to embody every faculty, every thought, every emotion which belongs to it, in appropriate events.But the thought is always prior to the fact; all the facts of history preexist in the mind as laws.To compound the matter, “life is a train of moods like a string of beads.” Each mood offers a different lens upon the world, showing only what lies in its focus.

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Selected Bibliography Bibliography of Secondary Sources on Emerson, 1914-1985 Bibliography of Secondary Sources on Emerson, 1985 to the present Mr.

2 of the 12 volume Fireside edition of the works of Emerson. This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Every man is an inlet to the same and to all of the same.

Each law in turn is made by circumstances predominant, and the limits of nature give power to but one at a time. The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn, and Egypt, Greece, Rome, Gaul, Britain, America, lie folded already in the first man.

Epoch after epoch, camp, kingdom, empire, republic, democracy, are merely the application of his manifold spirit to the manifold world.

Emerson opens his essay with a poem about the “lords of life,” those forces which affect our experience of life.

Within this poem lies the problem Emerson seeks to address.(However, Emerson is keen to note that the limitations of temperament are not physically determined, as suggested by “so-called sciences” like phrenology, but spiritually.) Elaborating on his analogy of the string of beads, Emerson argues the secret of the illusoriness of life derives from our need for variety and change, or “a succession of moods or objects.” We delight in a book or work of art, before moving on to the next, and do not ever return to the first with the same enthusiasm as we once had.In this way, we do not expand beyond ourselves to grasp new ideas or develop new talents.This human mind wrote history, and this must read it. If the whole of history is in one man, it is all to be explained from individual experience.There is a relation between the hours of our life and the centuries of time.Finally, Emerson advises to live in moderation between the poles of power (life force) and form. Life would be easier if it only consisted of routine and known causes and effects.However, thankfully, life is full of surprises that shake our limited perception of reality, moments when God isolates us in the present and calls for spontaneity. Indeed, genius always contains such spontaneity, the exertion of power incidentally, rather than directly. Our power, our life force, derives from the Eternal, and so the results of life, our successes and failures, are “uncalculated and uncalculable.” While Emerson has thus far described life as a “flux of moods” and spontaneity, he adds our consciousness’ capacity to connect with the divine First Cause remains constant and helps us to evaluate our sensations and states of mind.Grief could not bring back his son, Waldo, who died in 1842.“An innavigable sea washes with silent waves between us and the things we aim at and converse with.” We are left neither better nor worse, untouched, even if we lost what we once thought of as a part of ourselves.Who hath access to this universal mind is a party to all that is or can be done, for this is the only and sovereign agent. Its genius is illustrated by the entire series of days.Man is explicable by nothing less than all his history.


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