Selected Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson - Study Guide History Summary & Analysis

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Human history is merely the record of individual men discovering, or rediscovering, principles of the universal mind that already exist in the individual mind as laws, according to Emerson. Each of these laws is made prominent by circumstances, but the limits of nature "give power to but one at a time." Thus, history should be understood as biography, and by reading the biographies of individuals in history, we read our own biography and discover principles of the universal mind that are eternal and unchanging. Emerson says. In others, we learn about our own natures, whether the learning comes in the form of poetry, science, deeds of heroic accomplishment, architecture or great suffering. The enlightened individual "should see that he can live all history in his own person," Emerson believes.

The power of the arts—poetry, music, painting, sculpture—lies in their ability to...

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This section contains 289 words
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Buy the Selected Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson Study Guide
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