Philosophical and Psychological
Foundations of Education
QUOTATIONS BY PHILOSOPHER
 

RALPH WALDO EMERSON

 

My Educational Philosophy
Quotations by Topic


Aristotle
Audi
Bandura
Bloom
Bruner
Csikszentmihalyi
de Bary
Dewey
Eble
Edmundson
Emerson
Frankl
Freire
Gardner
Giamatti
Gilligan
Greene
Gregory
Hirst
Hook
James
Kant
Locke
Maritain
Maslow
Matthews
Mill
Montessori
Nehring
Noddings
Pajares
Palmer
Piaget
Pinker
Plato
Roland Martin
Rorty
Rousseau
Searle
Skinner
Vygotsky
Whitehead
Woolf

Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string. Accept the place the divine providence has found for you, the society of your contemporaries, the connection of events. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Passages from "Circles"

Our life is an apprenticeship to the truth, that around every circle another can be drawn; that there is no end in nature, but every end is a beginning; that there is always another dawn risen on mid-noon, and under every deep a lower deep opens. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Circles"


That which builds is better than that which is built. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Circles"


Permanence is a word of degrees. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Circles"


The life of man is a self-evolving circle, which, from a ring imperceptibly small, rushes on all sides outwards to new and larger circles, and that without end. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Circles"


The heart refuses to be imprisoned; in its first and narrowest pulses, it already tends outward with a vast force, and to immense and innumerable expansions. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Circles"


The result of to-day, which haunts the mind and cannot be escaped, will presently be abridged into a word, and the principle that seemed to explain nature will itself be included as one example of a bolder generalization. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Circles"


Every man supposes himself not to be fully understood; . . . That is, every man believes that he has a greater possibility. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Circles"


The very hopes of man, the thoughts of his heart, the religion of nations, the manners and morals of mankind, are all at the mercy of a new generalization. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Circles"


Valor consists in the power of self-recovery, so that a man cannot have his flank turned, cannot be out-generalled, but put him where you will, he stands. This can only be by his preferring truth to his past apprehension of truth. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Circles"


Good as is discourse, silence is better and shames it. The length of the discourse indicates the distance of thought betwixt the speaker and the hearer. If they were at a perfect understanding in any part, no words would be necessary thereon. If at one in all parts, no words would be suffered. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Circles"


The field cannot be seen from within the field. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Circles"


With every precaution you take against such an evil, you put yourself into the power of the evil. I suppose that the highest prudence is the lowest prudence. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Circles"


I unsettle all things. No facts are to me sacred; none are profane; I simply experiment, an endless seeker, with no Past at my back. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Circles"


Thus there is no sleep, no pause, no preservation, but all things renew, germinate, and spring. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Circles"

Nothing is secure but life, transition, the energizing spirit. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Circles"

People wish to be settled; only as far as they are unsettled is there any hope for them.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Circles"

Life is a series of surprises. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Circles"


True conquest is the causing the calamity to fade and disappear, as an early cloud of insignificant result in a history so large and advancing. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Circles"


The one thing we seek with insatiable desire is to forget ourselves, to be surprised out of our propriety, to lose our sempiternal memory, and to do something without knowing how or why; in short, to draw a new circle. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Circles"


Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm. The way of life is wonderful: it is by abandonment. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Circles"


Passages from "Self-Reliance"

Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of our own mind. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Self-Reliance"


The virtue in most request is conformity. Self-reliance is its aversion. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Self-Reliance"


Every decent and well-spoken individual affects and sways me more than is right. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Self-Reliance"


Trust is handsomer than the affectation of love. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Self-Reliance"


Goodness must have some edge to it -- else it is none. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Self-Reliance"


It is easy in the world to live after the world's opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great woman is she who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Self-Reliance"*


Do your thing and I shall know you. Do your work, and you shall reinforce yourself. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Self-Reliance"


Men imagine that they communicate their virtue or vice only by overt actions, and do not see that virtue or vice emit a breath every moment. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Self-Reliance"


Fear never but you shall be consistent in whatever variety of actions, so they be each honest and natural in their hour. For of one will the actions be harmonious, however unlike they seem. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Self-Reliance"


The voyage of the best ship is a zigzag line of a hundred tacks. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Self-Reliance"


The force of character is cumulative. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Self-Reliance"


Woman is in the world a sort of sot, but now and then wakes up, exercises her reason, and finds herself a true princess. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Self-Reliance"*


Woman is timid and apologetic. She is no longer upright. She dares not say, "I think," "I am," but quotes some saint or sage. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Self-Reliance"*


Woman postpones or remembers; she does not live in the present, but with reverted eye laments the past, or, heedless of the riches that surround him, stands on tiptoe to foresee the future. She cannot be happy and strong until she too lives with nature in the present, above time. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Self-Reliance"*


Power ceases in the instant of repose; it resides in the moment of transition from a past to a new state. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Self-Reliance"


I like the silent church before the service begins, better than any preaching. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson


No man can come near me but through my act. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Self-Reliance"


I must be myself. I cannot break myself any longer for you, or you. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Self-Reliance"


And truly it demands something godlike in she who has cast off the common motives of humanity, and has ventured to trust herself for a task-master. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Self-Reliance"*


As man's prayers are a disease of the will, so are their creeds a disease of the intellect. "What we love, that we have; but by desire we bereave ourselves of the love." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Self-Reliance"


I will have no covenants, but proximities. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Self-Reliance"


Discontent is the want of self-reliance: it is infirmity of will. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Self-Reliance"


Traveling is a fool's paradise. We owe to our first journeys the discovery that place is nothing . . . My giant goes with me wherever I go. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Self-Reliance"


Insist on yourself; never imitate. Your own gift you can present every moment with the cumulative force of a whole life's cultivation; but of the adopted talent of another you have only an extemporaneous, half possession. That which each can do best, not but her Maker can teach her. No woman yet knows what it is, nor can, till that person has exhibited it. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Self-Reliance"*


Do that which is assigned thee, and thou canst not hope too much or dare too much. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Self-Reliance"


The civilised man has built a coach, but has lost the use of his feet. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Self-Reliance"


Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Self-Reliance"


Passages from "Friendship"

Our intellectual and active powers increase with our affection. The scholar sits down to write, and all his years of meditation do not furnish him with one good thought or happy expression; but it is necessary to write a letter to a friend,--and forthwith troops of gentle thoughts invest themselves, on every hand, with chosen words. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson


Delicious is a just and firm encounter of two in a thought, in a feeling. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson


Who hears me, who understands me, becomes mine,--a possession for all time. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

By oldest right, by the divine affinity of virtue with itself, I find them, or rather, not I, but the Deity in me and in them, both deride and cancel the thick walls of individual character, relation, age, sex, and circumstance, at which he usually connives, and now makes many one. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson


I do not wish to treat friendships daintily, but with roughest courage. When they are real, they are not glass threads or frostwork, but the solidest thing we know. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson


But the sweet sincerity of joy and peace which I draw from this alliance with my brother's soul, is the nut itself whereof all nature and all thought is but the husk and shell. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson


Passages from "Intellect"

Nature shows all things formed and bound. The intellect pierces the form, overleaps the wall, detects intrinsic likeness between remote things, and reduces all things into a few principles. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Intellect"


The growth of the intellect is spontaneous in every expansion. The mind that grows could not predict the times, the means, the mode of that spontaneity. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Intellect"


All our progress is an unfolding, like the vegetable bud. You have first an instinct, then an opinion, then a knowledge, as the plant has root, bud, and fruit. Trust the instinct to the end, thought you can render no reason. It is vain to hurry it. By trusting it to the end, it shall ripen into truth, and you shall know why you believe. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Intellect"


Every body knows as much as the savant. The walls of rude minds are scrawled all over with facts, with thoughts. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Intellect"


What is the hardest task in the world? To think. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Intellect"


The differences between persons is not in wisdom but in art. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Intellect"


He held the old; he holds the new; I had the habit of tacking together the old and the new, which he did not use to exercise. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Intellect"


How wearisome the grammarian, the phrenologist, the political or religious fanatic, or indeed any possessed mortal whose balance is lost by the exaggeration of a single topic. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Intellect"


The world refuses to be analyzed by addition and subtraction. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Intellect"


God offers to every mind its choice between truth and repose. Take which you please,--you can never have both. Between these, as a pendulum, man oscillates. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Intellect"


Happy is the hearing man; unhappy the speaking man. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Intellect"


If I speak, I define, I confine, and am less. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Intellect"


Silence is a solvent that destroys personality, and gives us leave to be great and universal. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Intellect"


Every [woman's] progress is through a succession of teachers, each of whom seems at the time to have a superlative influence, but it at last gives place to a new. Frankly let [her] accept it all. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Intellect"


Each new mind we approach seems to require an abdication of all our past and present possessions. A new doctrine seems, at first, a subversion of all our opinions, tastes, and manner of living. . . . Take thankfully and heartily all they can give. Exhaust them, wrestle with them, let them not go until their blessing be won, and, after a short season, the dismay will be overpast, the excess of influence withdrawn, and they will be no longer an alarming meteor, but one more bright star shining serenely in your heaven, and blending its light with all your day. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Intellect"


The Bacon, the Spinoza, the Hume, Schelling, Kant, or whosoever propounds to you a philosophy of the mind, is only a more or less awkward translator of things in your consciousness, which you have also your way of seeing, perhaps of denominating. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Intellect"


The truth and grandeur of their thought is proved by its scope and applicability, for it commands the entire schedule and inventory of things for its illustration. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Intellect"



* I have taken the liberty to alter male pronouns; I hope that Emerson would not mind.

 

 
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