Saturday, May 28, 2011

In Celebration of Ralph Waldo Emerson's 208th Birthday

May 25, 2011 marked the 208th birthday of poet, essayist, lecturer, and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson. As a former English teacher and lover of literature, Emerson is one of my literary heroes. I still treasure my copy of his complete essays. No other author has influenced my own world view than him, yet that sounds in some ways anti-Emersonian, for he writes extensively about the importance of not relying on bards or sages in discovering truth. He advocates looking for truth within our own experiences. Still, his thought has strongly influenced my life and my career as educator. Below is an excellent documentary on Emerson from Also, I've taken the liberty to include some of my favorite Emerson quotes, though he would probably advocate I post my own quotes instead of his.

"The world exists for the education of each man."
"To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men---that is genius."
"Whoso would be a man, must be a nonconformist. He who would gather immortal palms must not be hindered by the name of goodness, but must explore if it be goodness. Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind."
 "No law can be sacred to me but that of my nature. Good and bad are but names readily transferable to that or this; the only right is what is after my constitution; the only wrong is what is against it."

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