Read Nature by Ralph Waldo Emerson Free Online
Book Title: Nature|
The author of the book: Ralph Waldo Emerson
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 31.19 MB
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Loaded: 1197 times
Reader ratings: 7.7
Edition: Penguin Books
Date of issue: September 1st 1995
ISBN 13: 9780146001031
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Emerson's essay Nature pretty much defeated me. I read Self-Reliance years ago and was incredibly impressed and inspired, but although I think Nature was included in the little volume I still have up in Arizona, I don't remember reading it at the time. So when I had the opportunity to include this in a challenge, I was looking forward to reading what Emerson had to say.
But although at times I thought I was just about to grasp his ideas so that I could say "Eureka, I see what you are saying!" it usually happened that the point he was making slithered away before I could interpret it properly. This is not Emerson's fault, but my own. I am a bit fuzzy-brained these days, and that state does not mix well with this type of reading.
I did come close enough to a few points to either agree, disagree, or wonder if I was reading correctly. Such as when Emerson seems to be saying that Nature has value only in when it relates to Man in some way. Here is an example of this: "The instincts of the ant are very unimportant, considered as the ant's; but the moment a ray of relation is seen to extend from it to man, and the little drudge is seen to be a monitor, a little body with a mighty heart, then all its habits, even that said to be recently observed, that it never sleeps, become sublime."
That was the final sentence of a long paragraph where I was beginning to wonder about my abilities to understand anything. To me the instincts and habits of an ant are sublime because they are the
instincts and habits of an ant, not because of how they relate to man. We have to understand and appreciate that every being, plant or animal, is simply being itself. Whether Man is involved or not should make no difference in how we view an ant or any creature in Nature. We need to see and appreciate the world around us for its own sake only, not for what we can take from it.
I want to read this again someday when I am better able to think in a sharper manner. I do like the following quote, though.....and believe it or not, I even understood it!
"The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common."
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Read information about the authorin 1803, Ralph Waldo Emerson was born in Boston. Educated at Harvard and the Cambridge Divinity School, he became a Unitarian minister in 1826 at the Second Church Unitarian. The congregation, with Christian overtones, issued communion, something Emerson refused to do. "Really, it is beyond my comprehension," Emerson once said, when asked by a seminary professor whether he believed in God. (Quoted in 2,000 Years of Freethought edited by Jim Haught.) By 1832, after the untimely death of his first wife, Emerson cut loose from Unitarianism. During a year-long trip to Europe, Emerson became acquainted with such intelligentsia as British writer Thomas Carlyle, and poets Wordsworth and Coleridge. He returned to the United States in 1833, to a life as poet, writer and lecturer. Emerson inspired Transcendentalism, although never adopting the label himself. He rejected traditional ideas of deity in favor of an "Over-Soul" or "Form of Good," ideas which were considered highly heretical. His books include Nature (1836), The American Scholar (1837), Divinity School Address (1838), Essays, 2 vol. (1841, 1844), Nature, Addresses and Lectures (1849), and three volumes of poetry. Margaret Fuller became one of his "disciples," as did Henry David Thoreau.
The best of Emerson's rather wordy writing survives as epigrams, such as the famous: "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines." Other one- (and two-) liners include: "As men's prayers are a disease of the will, so are their creeds a disease of the intellect" (Self-Reliance, 1841). "The most tedious of all discourses are on the subject of the Supreme Being" (Journal, 1836). "The word miracle, as pronounced by Christian churches, gives a false impression; it is a monster. It is not one with the blowing clover and the falling rain" (Address to Harvard Divinity College, July 15, 1838). He demolished the right wing hypocrites of his era in his essay "Worship": ". . . the louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons" (Conduct of Life, 1860). "I hate this shallow Americanism which hopes to get rich by credit, to get knowledge by raps on midnight tables, to learn the economy of the mind by phrenology, or skill without study, or mastery without apprenticeship" (Self-Reliance). "The first and last lesson of religion is, 'The things that are seen are temporal; the things that are not seen are eternal.' It puts an affront upon nature" (English Traits , 1856). "The god of the cannibals will be a cannibal, of the crusaders a crusader, and of the merchants a merchant." (Civilization, 1862). He influenced generations of Americans, from his friend Henry David Thoreau to John Dewey, and in Europe, Friedrich Nietzsche, who takes up such Emersonian themes as power, fate, the uses of poetry and history, and the critique of Christianity. D. 1882.
Ralph Waldo Emerson was his son and Waldo Emerson Forbes, his grandson.
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