May 29, 2009

Character

There is in every man a determination of character to a peculiar end, counteracted often by unfavorable fortune, but more apparent the more he is left at liberty. This is called his genius, or nature, or his turn of mind. The object of Education should be to remove all obstructions & let this natural force have free play & exhibit its peculiar product. It seems to be true that no man in this is deluded. This determination of his character is to something in nature; something real. This object is called his Idea. It is that which rules his most advised actions, those especially that are most his, & is most distinctly discerned by him in those days or moments when he derives the sincerest satisfaction from his life.

—Ralph Waldo Emerson [from his journals, Dec. 27 1834], in EMERSON IN HIS JOURNALS, selected and edited by Joel Porte, Harvard University Press, Cambridge (Massachusetts) - London (England), 1982.



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1 comment:

  1. This 'Idea' of individual potential contrasts sadly with the handed down, age old obsessions of cruel patrons and poor, exploited workers whose only hope is represented by unionism.
    There's no challenge and little hope in following the black goat with the bell, and periods of crisis bring to light the stark realities that even what were previously considered the most indestructible of companies and institutions can fall subject to. We are then brutally reminded that even the laws of capitalism are ultimate governed by those of nature. Eventually there's a price to pay for lack of foresight, competence and efficiency, and only the best survive.

    It's always far better to be an individual, to try to live according to one's beliefs and values, to succeed or fail honourably in one's life effort, than to keep following the black goat with the bell, sadly deluding oneself that one is progressing.

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