CHAPTER VII
EMERSON'S PHILOSOPHY

1. EXPERIENCE

THE secret of Emerson may be conveyed in one word, the superlative, even the superhuman, value which he found in the unit of experience, the direct, momentary, individual act of consciousness. This is the centre from which the man radiates: it begets all and explains all. He may be defined as an experiment made by nature in the raising of the single perception or impression to a hitherto unimaginable value.

From this point of view, the fact that he wrote journals all his life, and that his published works are distillations of journals, acquires a quite novel significance. It is hard to believe that these grave volumes with their abstract themes are in essence a "Pepys' Diary," an ingathering of brief tinglings or stimulations. Such is, nevertheless, the fact.

The sceptic who calls for Emerson's personal testimony may be readily satisfied. "A single thought has no limit to its value."1 "A rush of thoughts . . . the only conceivable prosperity."2 "A man's whole possibility is contained in that habitual first look which he casts on all objects."3

The sentences that compose the works are all, in a

____________________
1
" Natural History of Intellect," XII, 40.
2
Jour. X, 335.
3
" Instinct and inspiration," XII, 66.

-297-

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Ralph Waldo Emerson
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Prefatory Note *
  • Contents *
  • Chapter I: - The Crescent Man 1
  • Chapter II: - "Full Circle" 45
  • Chapter III: - The Westering Wheel 115
  • Chapter IV: - The Harvest 157
  • Chapter V: - Emerson as Prose-Writer 227
  • Chapter VI: - Emerson as Poet 274
  • Viii. Conclusion 294
  • Chapter VII: - Emerson's Philosophy 297
  • Chapter VIII: - Foreshadowings 360
  • Index 375
  • Complete Works 381
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