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Representative Men

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Book Overview: 

A series of biographical lectures originally published in 1850. Each chapter is a philosophical treatment of the life of an intellectual. The six representatives are Plato, Swedenborg, Shakespeare, Montaigne, Napoleon and Goethe.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .Greek love of boundary, and his skill in definition. In reading logarithms, one is not more secure, than in following Plato in his flights. Nothing can be colder than his head, when the lightnings of his imagination are playing in the sky. He has finished his thinking, before he brings it to the reader; and he abounds in the surprises of a literary master. He has that opulence which furnishes, at every turn, the precise weapon he needs. As the rich man wears no more garments, drives no more horses, sits in no more chambers, than the poor,—but has that one dress, or equipage, or instrument, which is fit for the hour and the need; so Plato, in his plenty, is never restricted, but has the fit word. There is, indeed, no weapon in all the armory of wit which he did not possess and use,—epic, analysis, mania, intuition, music, satire, and irony, down to the customary and polite. His illustrations are poetry and his jests illustrations. Socrates' profession of obstetric art is goo. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Emerson is America’s great Transcendental philosopher of nature. I’m not a nature lover, however. I don’t think more truths are to be had walking through a forest than walking down a city street. I don’t think nature is an unambiguous good, extolling lessons of virtue and justice. Nature, to me, is

No American author is greater at expressing an idea in a sentence than Ralph Waldo Emerson, I'd say.

What are his ideas and how does he express them? Emerson is the principal proponent of Transcendentalism, which can be profitably described as idealism -- where, cribbing from German Idealism, Platoni

作品集,整本书非常长:)爱默生是超验主义(强调人的主观能动性)和个人自由主义的代表人物。他对自己的总结是“In all my lectures, I have taught one doctrine, namely, the infinitude of the private man.”他相信万事万物皆有神性。所有的作品其实都是围绕着”Human” and “Nature”两大主题。

“There is throughout nature something mocking, something that leads us on and on, but arrives nowhere, keep

Turns out Emerson is remembered for his best work. The collected work is interesting because it reveals more of the mind behind the essays, but the essays themselves feel more like a product of their time than bolts of genuine, timeless insight like his best pieces. He raises interesting questions a

“Our age is retrospective,” wrote Emerson. Emerson fought for individuals to trust the divine within and stop relying on past individuals to tell us what to do. “Books are the best of things, well used; abused, among the worst...They are for nothing but to inspire.” Fascinating read. I think I’m a T

In alluding just now to our system of education, I spoke of the deadness of its details. But it is open to graver criticism than the palsy of its members: it is a system of despair. The disease with which the human mind now labors, is want of faith. Men do not believe in a power of education. We do

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