Volltext: Emerson Hall (2)

to take a painting of Raphael and abstract not only from the richly 
colored gowns of the persons in it, but from their flesh and blood, 
till only the skeletons of the figures remained. All beauty would be 
gone, and yet we know that Raphael himself drew at first the skeletons 
of his figures, knowing too well that no pose and no gesture is con¬ 
vincing, and no drapery beautiful if the bones and joints fit not cor¬ 
rectly together. And such a skeleton of theoretical ideas appears not 
only without charm, it appears necessarily also uninteresting, without 
originality, commonplace. All the philosophies, from Plato to Hegel, 
brought down to their technical formulas, sound merely like new 
combinations of trivial elements, and yet they have made the world, 
have made revolutions and wars, have led to freedom and peace, 
have been mightier than traditions and customs; and it is true for 
every one of them that, as Emerson said, “A philosopher must be 
more than a philosopher.” 
There are, it seems, three principles of a philosophical character 
without which Emerson’s life-work cannot be conceived. To bring 
them to the shortest expression we might say, Nature speaks to us; 
Freedom speaks in us; the Oversoul speaks through us. There is no 
word in Emerson’s twelve volumes which is inconsistent with this 
threefold conviction, and everything else in his system either follows 
immediately from this belief or is a non-essential supplement. But that 
threefold faith is a courageous creed indeed. The first, we said, refers 
to Nature; he knew Nature in its intimacy, he knew Nature in its 
glory; “Give me health and a day and I will make the pomp of 
emperors ridiculous.” And this Nature, that is the assertion, is not 
what natural sciences teach it to be. The Nature of the physicist, the 
dead world of atoms controlled by the laws of a dead causality, is not 
really the Nature we live in; the reality of Nature cannot be expressed 
by the record of its phenomena, but merely by the understanding of 
its meaning. Natural science leads us away from Nature as it really 
is. We must try to understand the thoughts of Nature. “Nature 
stretches out her arms to embrace man; only let his thoughts be of 
equal greatness;” and again Emerson says, “All the facts of natural 
history taken by themselves have no value, but are barren like a 
single sex; but marry it to human history and it is full of life;” and 
finally, “The philosopher postpones the apparent order of things to 
the empire of Thought.” Jf 
And in the midst of Nature, of the living Nature, we breathe in 
freedom; man is free. Take that away and Emerson is not. Man is 
free. He does not mean the freedom of the Declaration of Inde-


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