Ralph Waldo Emerson’s thoughts on history

The nature of our spirit can be seen as a connection of events collected through time. To this writer an essential element in the development of creating idea, either consciously or unconsciously, is urged along by the products of the past… “history”!

In my earlier blogs I offered to the reader what Bertrand Russell had to say on the matter of “history”. Today we will lend Ralph Waldo Emerson a moment of our time.

history Greek “There is one mind common to all individual men. Every man is an inlet to the same and to all the same. He that is once admitted to the right of reason is made a freeman of the whole estate. What Plato has thought, he may think; what a saint has felt, he may feel; what at any time has befallen any man, he can understand. …Of the works of this mind history is the record. Its genius is illustrated by the entire series of days. Man is explicable by nothing less than all his history. 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…This human mind wrote history, and this must read it. The Sphinx must solve her own riddle. 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. As the air I breathe is drawn from that great repositories of nature, as the light on my book is yielded by a star a hundred millions of miles distant, as the poise of my body depends on the equilibrium of centrifugal and centripetal forces, so the hours should be instructed by the ages, and the ages explained by the hours…Each new fact in his private experience flashes a light on what great bodies of men have done, and the crises of his life refer to national crises. Every revolution was first a thought in one man’s mind, and when the same thought occurs to another man, it is the key to that era…

Ralph Waldo Emerson: Looking at circles beyond the obvious

circle The term circle generally conjures up images of a simple geometric shape; it denotes a plane enclosed figure whose boundary (the circumference) consists of points equidistant from a fixed center. But if we think of a circle in more abstract terms, we can go beyond; for aren’t thoughts a trail of interrelated ideas? Not linear, but linked so they can reconnect; hence…like a circle.

Today this writer will introduce or reintroduce to you, Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1870), the central figure in his literary and philosophical group, now known as the American Transcendentalists. He looked at “circles” in a most eloquent way, which I find worthy of contemplation. So…I have taken the liberty of extracting pieces from his essay into a reflection for this day’s blog.

“The eye is the first circle; the horizon which it forms is the second; and throughout nature this primary figure is repeated without an end…Our life is an apprenticeship of the truth, that around every circle another can be drawn; that there is no end in nature, but every end is a beginning that there is always another dawn risen on mid-noon, and under every deep a lower deep opens…Every ultimate fact is only the first of a new series. Every general law only a particular fact of some more general law presented to disclose itself. ..The key to every man is thought. Sturdy and defying though he look, he has a helm which he obeys, which is the idea after which all his facts are classified. He can only be reformed by showing him a new idea which commands his own. The life of man is a self-evolving circle, which, from a ring imperceptibly small, rushes on all sides outwards to new and larger circles, and that without end… “