Emerson Lectures Essays

LIBRARY OF AMERICA is an independent nonprofit cultural organization founded in 1979 to preserve our nation’s literary heritage by publishing, and keeping permanently in print, America’s best and most significant writing.The Library of America series includes more than 300 volumes to date, authoritative editions that average 1,000 pages in length, feature cloth covers, sewn bindings, and ribbon markers, and are printed on premium acid-free paper that will last for centuries.Our most eloquent champion of individualism, Emerson acknowledges at the same time the countervailing pressures of society in American life.

In doing so, he tried to forge a new identity for the new representative American—serene, self-confident, democratic, progressive and pluralistic.” —St.

In contemplating the shortness of life, Seneca considered what it takes to live wide rather than long.

“The Emerson who speaks to us through these essays understood America as few have done before or since.

By nature a dualistic thinker, he fully realized the polarities of American experience—between action and reflection, self-reliance and community, unity and diversity, idealism and materialism, past and future….

If we will take the good we find, asking no questions, we shall have heaping measures. We may climb into the thin and cold realm of pure geometry and lifeless science, or sink into that of sensation.

Between these extremes is the equator of life, of thought, of spirit, of poetry, — a narrow belt. It turns out somewhat new and very unlike what he promised himself. It takes me hundreds of hours a month to research and compose, and thousands of dollars to sustain. If you find any joy and value in what I do, please consider becoming a Sustaining Patron with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of tea and a good lunch. Claim yours: is in its twelfth year and because I write primarily about ideas of a timeless character, I have decided to plunge into my vast archive every Wednesday and choose from the thousands of essays one worth resurfacing and resavoring.And in a world awash with information but increasingly vacant of wisdom, navigating the maze of the human experience in the hope of arriving at happiness is proving more and more disorienting.How to orient ourselves toward buoyant aliveness is what Ralph Waldo Emerson (May 25, 1803–April 27, 1882) examines in a beautiful essay titled “Experience,” found in his We live amid surfaces, and the true art of life is to skate well on them…Or, as a modern-day wise woman admonished in one of the greatest commencement addresses of all time, it pays not to “determine what [is] impossible before it [is] possible.” A century and a half before Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert illuminated how our present illusions hinder the happiness of our future selves, Emerson adds: The results of life are uncalculated and uncalculable. has a free Sunday digest of the week's most interesting and inspiring articles across art, science, philosophy, creativity, children's books, and other strands of our search for truth, beauty, and meaning. Subscribe to this free midweek pick-me-up for heart, mind, and spirit below — it is separate from the standard Sunday digest of new pieces: participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn commissions by linking to Amazon.In more human terms, this means that whenever you buy a book on Amazon from a link on here, I receive a small percentage of its price. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article.Join Britannica's Publishing Partner Program and our community of experts to gain a global audience for your work! Developed from his journals and from a series of lectures he gave in the winter of 1836–37, it exhorts the reader to consistently obey “the aboriginal self,” or inner law, regardless of institutional rules, popular opinion, tradition, or other social regulators.If these are mean and malignant, their contentment, which is the last victory of justice, is a more satisfying echo to the heart than the voice of poets and the casual sympathy of admirable persons.Indeed, Emerson highlights the practice of kindness as a centerpiece of the full life, suggesting that our cynicism about the character and potential of others — much like our broader cynicism about the world — reflects not the true measure of their merit but the failure of our own imagination in appreciating their singular gifts: I think that however a thoughtful man may suffer from the defects and absurdities of his company, he cannot without affectation deny to any set of men and women a sensibility to extraordinary merit.To finish the moment, to find the journey’s end in every step of the road, to live the greatest number of good hours, is wisdom. to say that the shortness of life considered, it is not worth caring whether for so short a duration we were sprawling in want or sitting high.Since our office is with moments, let us husband them.

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