Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Emerson famously said that "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines." That is why reading him in hopes of finding a systematic "theology" will always be futile-it is a path not a destination. This today in "Nominalist and Realist"

"I am always insincere, as always knowing there are other moods."

And this in the notes (of the 12 volume Concord edition edited by Edward Emerson):

"This is a harsh statement of the looseness with which a growing man should hold his beliefs of the day. In this very connection an instance can be given o how bravely sincere Mr. Emerson was. While temporarily preaching in East Lexington, he introduced into his discourse leaves from a sermon written a few years before while he was a Boston minister. In delivering it, he suddenly stopped and quietly said to his hearers, "The sentence which I have just read I do not now believe," turned the page, and went on."


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

For a man given to writing in epigrams that seem quite firm and resolute when clipped out for quotation—and what American author is more quoted than Emerson—he had a refreshing understanding of his own fallibility. That, and his very inconsistencies, remain reasons why the large body of Emerson’s work, not just one ore two famous essays or sermons, is so useful to read.