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Emerson Glossary

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A Selected Emerson Glossary

The following terms are a few that Emerson used frequently in his work and which often have a unique, even specialized, connotation. Having a basic grasp of these words, as he used them, will enhance your understanding and appreciation for his work. [exerpted from Emerson's work by Richard Geldard and contained in his book, The Spiritual Teachings of Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Art -- the soul's action on the world; to educate the perception of beauty
Beauty -- one expression for the universe
Behavior -- my manner of life
Body -- my office, where I work
Character -- a reserved force which acts directly by presence; a latent power
Considerations --- the positive centers of my actions
Civilization -- the powers of a good woman
Culture -- my widest sympathies and affinities
Dialectic -- to Platonize; to drive through a subject to its essence
Ethics -- the soul illustrated in daily life
Existence -- the soul's need for an organ in nature
Fate -- the limitations of my inheritance and the natural world
Freedom -- without any hindrance that does not arise out of my own constitution
Generalization -- a new influx of divinity into the mind
History -- the record of the works of the Universal Mind
Illusions -- the games and masks of my self-deception
Instinct -- revelations of the soul in the mind
Intellect -- the organ which sees an object as it stands in the light of science (cool and disengaged)
Intuition -- an insight into the perfection of the laws of the soul
Jesus (his purpose) -- to redeem us from a formal religion; to teach us to seek our well-being in the formation of the soul
Literature -- the soul's record in the world; a platform whence we may command a view of our present life
Logic -- the procession or proportionate unfolding of the intuition
Love of Truth -- abstaining from dogmatism, recognizing the opposite negations between which the being is strung respect for the highest law of being
Man (human being) -- a stupendous antagonism, a dragging together of the poles of the universe; a god in ruins
Manners -- silent and mediate expressions of the soul
Nature -- an endless combination of repetition of a very few laws
Obedience -- the eye which reads the laws of the universe
Philosophy -- the account which the human mind gives to itself of the constitution of the world
Politics -- the activity of the soul illustrated in power
Power -- my abilities and energies
Purpose of the World -- to realize the transformation of genius into practical power
Religion -- the emotion of reverence inspired by the soul
Repose -- the opposite of truth; synonymous with ignorance
Science -- the discovery of the soul's methods
Soul -- not an organ, but animates the organs; not a function but uses function; not a faculty but a light; not intellect or will but the master of the intellect and the will; related to the world
Teaching -- he who gives, and he learns who receives; there is no teaching until the pupil is brought into the same state or principle in which you are; a transformation takes place; then is a teaching
Thinking -- a pious reception
Trades -- the learning of the soul in nature by labor
Transcendentalism -- Intuitive thought; also Idealism; consciousness as the ground state of the universe
Virtue -- the adherence in action to the nature of things; a perpetual substitution of being for seeming
Wealth -- my gains and losses
Wisdom -- to finish the moment, to find the journey's end in every step of the road; to live the greatest number of good hours
Worship -- my belief

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